Sewell urges Congressional hearing to improve Voting Rights Amendment Act
Birmingham, AL-- Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell has joined several others in the House in a combined effort to a improve a bill that aims to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which saw major portions gutted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year.
Sewell, D-Selma, seeking a third term to represent Alabama’s District 7, signed a letter to House Republican Leadership and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee last Friday along with 160 of her colleagues, asking for a full hearing and opportunity to improve H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act. H.R. 3899 is a bi-partisan piece of legislation introduced in the House of Representatives in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County vs. Holder.
“While I am encouraged by the bi-partisan effort to find a legislative solution to reinstate the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, I am deeply concerned that the State of Alabama is not protected under the bill’s new coverage formula,” Sewell said. “Federal oversight has proven to be highly effective in giving Alabama voters the security they deserve throughout every stage of the electoral process.”
Although progress has been made, Sewell said the need for federal oversight still exists in Alabama. She cited a January 13, 2014 case in which a federal judge reinstated federal oversight over voting practices in Evergreen, Ala., using Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows jurisdictions that have intentionally discriminated against minority voters to be “bailed in” to the oversight requirements.
“No right is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote,” Sewell said. “We must be vigilant in our efforts to find a legislative solution that will address the Supreme Court ruling in the Shelby case. This bill in its current form falls short of providing adequate protections. It is my hope that we have a hearing on this bill and an opportunity to make changes and strengthen the Voting Rights Amendment Act so that it ensures that all vulnerable communities, like those in Alabama, are included under the pre-clearance provision.”
The attack of black marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Sewell’s hometown of Selma on Bloody Sunday played a pivotal role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Sewell is working hard to garner support for the 50th Commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery March slated for March 2015. In 2014, Sewell is also sponsoring legislation to extend the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. She also sponsors HR 2254, the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Act.
For more information of the Sewell re-election campaign, go to www.sewellforcongress.com.