Quigley Statement on Passage of John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) released a statement after the House passed H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. As the United States faces the worst voter suppression campaign since Jim Crow, this landmark legislation will fight back against the partisan, anti-democratic barriers keeping voters — especially voters of color — from the ballot box by restoring the critical protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The growing trend of erecting increasingly draconian barriers to the ballot box is an affront to every civil rights hero who, like John Lewis, fought and bled for our right to vote. I proudly voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act because it is the only thing that can safeguard the legacy of those heroes and protect our democracy from this unprecedented assault,” said Quigley. “Senate procedural concerns cannot stand in the way of ensuring that every American can exercise their right to vote. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up this essential legislation without delay before more damage can be done to our nation.”
During floor debate, Quigley delivered remarks in support of the bill.
Video of Quigley’s floor remarks is available HERE and a transcript of his remarks is included below:
Sixty-six years ago, this week, Emmett Till was brutally lynched by two white supremacists.
When his body was returned to his mother, Mamie Till, in Chicago she held an open casket funeral because, in her words: "I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby."
This was a galvanizing moment for the Civil Rights Movement.
But it was not the end of Mamie Till-Mobley’s activism.
She spent the rest of her life touring the country, speaking out about the injustice of her son’s murder, and the vital importance of eliminating racial discrimination, disenfranchisement, and segregation.
She also spent 23 years teaching in the Chicago public school system, continuing to speak to students in the Chicago area about civil rights as late as 2000.
Today we are witnessing the reemergence of the kinds of voting discrimination that she spent her life fighting against.
We must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act for Mamie Till, for John Lewis, for every hero who fought for civil rights.
Named for the late Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, H.R. 4 restores the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance requirement, allowing the federal government to once again reject many restrictions to voting, and creates a new practice-based preclearance requirement. The bill also eliminates the heightened standard for challenging voter suppression laws, which was created by the Supreme Court’s Brnovich v. DNC decision.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will also:
- Allow federal courts to immediately halt measures that put voting rights at stake until a final ruling is made.
- Empower the Attorney General to request that federal election observers be present anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
- Require reasonable public notice for proposed voting changes to increase transparency.
- Allow the federal government to review already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
- Help plaintiffs seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations ahead of an election.
- Establish a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s requirement to provide public notice for proposed voting laws.
After passing today in the House, H.R. 4 will now go to the Senate for consideration.