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To honor John Lewis, pass the Voting Rights Bill | READER COMMENTARY

John Lewis
John Lewis (Rob Rogers / Capital Gazette)

The greatest tribute that could be paid to Congressman John Lewis: Pass the voting rights bill now before the U.S. Senate (”U.S. Senate should pass new Voting Rights Act in honor of John Lewis,” July 21).

Why do we need this bill? The Supreme Court gutted the enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states with a history of voting rights violations to get preclearance from the Department of Justice before adopting changes to their voting laws or practices.

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In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

H. R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, passed the House of Representatives on December 6, 2019.

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The only action taken on H.R. 4 by the Senate has been to refer it to the Judiciary Committee.

Perhaps Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham will be moved by this statement from a colleague on the passing of Congressman Lewis.

“I will never forget joining hands with John as members of Congress sang We Shall Overcome at a 2008 ceremony honoring his friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It could not have been more humbling to consider what he had suffered and sacrificed so those words could be sung in that place.”

Who offered those words? Sen. Mitch McConnell.

A few days after John Lewis almost lost his life on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, these words were spoken to a joint session of Congress by President Lyndon Johnson.

“But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.”

“And we shall overcome.”

Delegate Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg, Baltimore

The writer is the Maryland state delegate for 41st legislative district in Baltimore City.

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