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Republican Congressman Vows Push To Fix Voting Rights Act

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner made some news today when he said that he intended to make an effort to address the problems in the Voting Rights Act that caused the Supreme Court to throw out the pre-clearance formulas that had been the most powerful part of the nearly 50 year old law:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Monday that he will attempt to replace, by the end of the year, the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Sensenbrenner’s comments came Monday at an event hosted by the Republican National Committee, commemorating the March on Washington.

Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.

“The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act, 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,” Sensenbrenner said.

Taking the stage after Sensenbrenner, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said, “I think Jim just made some news.”

Few Republicans have expressed a desire to fix the VRA.

Sensenbrennner still maintains a lot of pull on the House Judiciary Committee despite no longer being chairman, but it seems doubtful that he’d be able to persuade his fellow Republicans to go along on this, especially going into an election year.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Few Republicans have expressed a desire to fix the VRA.

    I love dry humor.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.

    “The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act, 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,” Sensenbrenner said.

    LOL
    There’s today’s Republican Party. I have no idea why Republicans get only 10% of the Black vote, I really don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  3. Ping Lin says:

    To be fair, al-Ameda, the racial connotations of the phrase “monkey wrench” have long since faded (if ever they were really in wide circulation).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  4. al-Ameda says:

    @Ping Lin:

    To be fair, al-Ameda, the racial connotations of the phrase “monkey wrench” have long since faded (if ever they were really in wide circulation).

    Actually, I was referring to his mention of a “challenge that will be filed by the usual suspects” – that to me means people who want to see the Voting Rights Act be relevant, and not eviscerated to the point where States like Texas are emboldened to pass laws that suppress the Black Vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. sam says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I think you misread him. By ‘usual suspects”, he’s referring to those who challenged the act, and won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. Ping Lin says:

    Ah! I see, forgive me.

    Although, once again, just ‘cos I’m feeling contrarian, the phrase “usual suspects” could just as easily refer to bodies like the ACLU, who would certainly have an interest in getting involved…and has often done so in the past.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @sam:

    I think you misread him. By ‘usual suspects”, he’s referring to those who challenged the act, and won.

    That’s possible, although I think he’s looking for ways to amend the Act so that civil rights advocates are pre-empted from challenges.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Paul Ryan vowed to focus on poverty…then promptly voted to slash funding that aided poor people…because helping poor people is actually holding them back.
    So when this guy vows to “fix” the VRA…it makes me worry for Voting Rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Yeah. I did get a chuckle out of the possible double meaning of “Fix” in the title. However, Roberts already neutered it, so I’m giving Sensenbrenner the benefit of the doubt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Davebo says:

    The fix is to make section 5 (was it?) applicable to all 50 states. Not just those deemed to have a history of discrimination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Yeah, right. Repubs want to make sure people can vote regardless of color. Sensenbrenner may or may not have good intentions but this will serve as little more than a fig leaf for Sunday morning bloviators.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    If they fix it in what has become the normal GOP method, then I am sure it will have little to do with voting, likely restrict abortion in some way, include increases in military spending in their home turf while demonizing low income Americans somehow.

    Can’t wait to see it!

    (*facepalmslap*)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Franklin says:

    I’m surprised the “usual suspects” aren’t here to attack this RINO from every conceivable angle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Kylopod says:

    @Ping Lin: Were you implying that the phrase “monkey wrench” has racist origins? Looking it up, I see no evidence of that, nor am I aware of anyone else ever having suggested such a thing. It’s true that using “monkey” as a metaphor while discussing a racial issue in any context poses problems, but given that it’s such a prosaic expression, I’m willing to give this congressman the benefit of the doubt on that point.

    It’s kind of like when I once saw a Daily Kos diary that began, “Let’s call a spade a spade: President Obama is a failure.” In some contexts I might assume someone who makes a statement like that is being a racist troll (to be honest, as a 36-year-old white guy I can’t remember being even aware of “spade” as a racial slur until I watched All in the Family); but as I examined the diary and other things the poster wrote, I concluded that the intentions were probably innocent. Our language is full of cliches that most of us use without thinking, and they can easily clash with other things we’re saying without our having any intent to have them read that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’m giving Sensenbrenner the benefit of the doubt.

    From Wikipedia:

    Political journalist Matt Taibbi described the incident in a profile of the 109th Congress published around October 2006: “Last year, Sensenbrenner became apoplectic when Democrats who wanted to hold a hearing on the Patriot Act invoked a little-known rule that required him to let them have one. “Naturally, he scheduled it for something like 9 a.m. on a Friday when Congress wasn’t in session, hoping that no one would show,” recalls a Democratic staffer who attended the hearing. “But we got a pretty good turnout anyway.” Sensenbrenner kept trying to gavel the hearing to a close, but Democrats again pointed to the rules, which said they had a certain amount of time to examine their witnesses. When they refused to stop the proceedings, the chairman did something unprecedented: He simply picked up his gavel and walked out. “He was like a kid at the playground,” the staffer says. And just in case anyone missed the point, Sensenbrenner shut off the lights and cut the microphones on his way out of the room. Commenting on Sensenbrenner’s actions on The Daily Show, comedian Jon Stewart said, “Oh my God, he literally took his gavel and went home; we are officially being governed by children.”

    I’m not holding my breath on this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. Tyrell says:

    I think this gives the justice department (Holder) too much power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5