PILF to Congress: Voting Rights Act Preclearance Was Inefficient

(FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.) – May 6, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) Communications and Research Director Logan C. Churchwell testified before the U.S. House Committee on Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections regarding the need for the return of the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance procedures.

In prepared remarks, Churchwell notes that:

Because of the Voting Rights Act, it has never been easier to register to vote and vote as it is in America in 2019 … 2019 is not 1965. The heavy hand of federal micromanagement of state election law was justified in 1965. It is not in 2019.

Churchwell argues that more modern uses of the preclearance power under the Clinton and Obama Justice Departments yielded abuses.

Unfortunately, the preclearance power became a power that was abused. From South Carolina voter ID to Georgia redistricting, Justice Department lawyers exercised powers that they did not possess by blocking states’ laws that were neither discriminatory in purpose or effect, and in some cases, courts handed down sanctions.

Churchwell reminds the Subcommittee that preclearance as a concept will again prove inefficient if reconstituted.

Whether or not the old preclearance regime can be fully credited for the actual progress made in creating a more just voting system – history will show that the program had a proper time and place – and that time has passed. I contend to this body and the general public that trying to resuscitate the concept of 20th Century-style preclearance will prove an inefficient use of federal resources and will always be at least one step behind emerging population and demographic trends.

Read a copy of Churchwell’s testimony, here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###