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Washington–Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and all Senate Judiciary Democrats on a letter pressing Chairman Lindsey Graham to expeditiously hold a hearing and markup on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 4263) – a bipartisan bill with 48 Senate cosponsors to restore the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that John Lewis risked his life to secure.

With the late John Lewis lying in state within the Capitol Rotunda, the Judiciary Committee Democrats urged Chairman Graham to honor his legacy with meaningful action on a cause to which he dedicated his life: voting rights and equality. 

The senators wrote, “The Senate Judiciary Committee must not stand idly by while the precious constitutional rights of so many Americans hang in the balance. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would go far in restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and curtailing some of the worst forms of voter suppression. We urge you to promptly hold a hearing and a markup to discuss, debate, and hopefully move this vital legislation out of committee.”

The senators continued, “The U.S. House of Representatives has already done its part by passing this legislation this past December. Now the Senate must do its job, and that begins here in the storied Senate Judiciary Committee. We cannot claim to honor the life of John Lewis if we refuse to carry on his life’s work.” 

The full text of the letter is here and below:

Dear Chairman Graham:

We write to request that you expeditiously schedule a hearing and a markup on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 4263), which we introduced last week with the bipartisan support of 48 Senators, including all Democratic members of this committee.

As you observed at last week's committee markup, the late, great Representative John Lewis

"risked his life to make America a better place," including by fighting for genuine voting equality for all Americans. The single most important thing we can do to honor his legacy is to carry it forward - by advancing this bipartisan legislation that would restore the same voter protections Congressman Lewis risked his life to secure as part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The need for this legislation could not be more urgent. After the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states across the country have enacted a wide range of laws seriously restricting access to the ballot box with little to no federal oversight. These laws - some of which judges have struck down as blatantly unconstitutional - have systematically, and at times deliberately, disenfranchised minorities, the elderly, those with disabilities, the poor, and college students. Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to even further restrict Americans' ability to cast their ballots, the progress and equality John Lewis fought so valiantly to achieve are at great risk.

The Senate Judiciary Committee must not stand idly by while the precious constitutional rights of so many Americans hang in the balance. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would go far in restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and curtailing some of the worst forms of voter suppression. We urge you to promptly hold a hearing and a markup to discuss, debate, and hopefully move this vital legislation out of committee.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already done its part by passing this legislation this past December. Now the Senate must do its job, and that begins here in the storied Senate Judiciary Committee. We cannot claim to honor the life of John Lewis if we refuse to carry on his life's work.

Sincerely,

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