With so many Republican state legislatures passing restrictive Voter ID laws to make voting my minorities difficult, it is with great surprise that, of all people, the conservative Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said on Monday that he wants to pass legislation to fix the part of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court and allowed all these GOP actions. The High Court wasn't against the pure section of the rule itself, but felt there were things in that were specifically unconstitutional. It's those things that Mr. Sensenbrenner wants to fix so that the law would hold up to Court scrutiny.
“The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act," he said, "and then use that monkey wrench to be able to fix it so that it is alive, well, constitutional and impervious to another challenge that will be filed by the usual suspects.”
Moreover, he wants this finished and passed now. By the end of the year. That's only four months away.
The shock in all this is that it's Jim Sensenbrenner -- no fan of anything not far right -- who is proposing the law. What I wonder is how much this is the sort of "Nixon opening the door to China" kind of thing, where it takes a conservative to propose the fix, so that it's not seen as a purely liberal issue. And given that the last time Congress voted on this law not long ago, and the vote was close to unanimous, it's not unreasonable to think that there actually is great bipartisan support for it, so a conservative Republican broaching the issue may not be totally shocking. Furthermore, it's possible that Republicans leaders see the huge backlash rising against these draconian laws, most notably in North Carolina and Texas, and want to stop the bleeding.
It also seems that, baring some huge monkey wrench of Congress' own, this would be something that can reasonably pass. After all, it just needs 218 votes, and Democrats should vote near-unanimously for it. Right now they have 208 members of the House. If "only" 200 of the Democrats vote for it, then a mere 18 Republicans would have to vote for it. And since it's being proposed by a leading conservative Republican, you have to figure that he knows he has far more than 18 votes of support on his side of the aisle.
That only leaves the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats. It would seem therefore that the only hurdle is if some Republican Senator decides to filibuster the issue, which would seem to be a death wish by the GOP.
So...it is with a positive sense of caution that would make this problem appear to be able to be resolved.
Yipes. And cautiously huzzah...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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