02/19/2019 -- Atlanta Georgia -- Fair Fight Action founder and Chair Stacey Abrams testifies about voting rights in Georgia during a field hearing on voting rights and difficulties facing voters in front of the United States House Administration Committee's elections subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, Tuesday, February 19, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Abrams to testify on Supreme Court’s voting rights ruling

Stacey Abrams is set to testify at a U.S. House hearing next week about the fallout of a U.S. Supreme Court decision six years ago that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. 

The Democrat was invited by a House subcommittee to speak about Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 ruling that ended the Justice Department’s power to block or force voting changes in Georgia and other states with a history of discriminatory practices.  

Abrams’ aides said she plans to testify about how that ruling “paved the way for voter suppression efforts in Georgia and other states that were previously protected from voting changes that make it harder for people of color to vote."

The runner-up in the 2018 race for governor, Abrams accused Republican Brian Kemp of treating his role as secretary of state as an arm of his campaign for governor, and often called him the “architect of voter suppression.” 

Kemp dismissed those claims and tried to paint his voting policies as part of his strict adherence to Georgia adopted by both Democrats and Republicans over the decades that aims to prevent illegal voters. 

The 5-4 Shelby decision tossed out the nearly half-century-old Voting Rights Act formula that determined which areas were required to submit their voting laws for “pre-clearance” with the Department of Justice. 

The court left the door open for Congress to adopt a new formula, based on more current evidence of racial discrimination. Those efforts have gained little traction in a sharply-divided Washington.

Some elections advocates have turned back to the courts to make headway. The Fair Fight Action voting rights group that Abrams launched asked a federal judge to reinstate a pre-clearance requirement for Georgia. The case is still pending.

The hearing is to be held on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.  It will be the second this year featuring Abrams’ testimony. 

In February, she urged House lawmakers to approve federal  oversight of elections after a “systemic breakdown” in Georgia during a field hearing in Atlanta.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.