Congressional Democrats are facing renewed pressure to pass legislation that would protect voting rights after a Supreme Court ruling made it harder to challenge Republican efforts to limit ballot access in many states. The 6-3 ruling Thursday on a case out of Arizona was the second time in a decade that conservatives on the Supreme Court have weakened components of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark Civil Rights-era law. But this opinion was released in a much different political climate, in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s lie that last year’s election was stolen.
Trump’s fabrications spurred Republicans in states such as Georgia and Florida to pass tougher rules on voting under the cloak of election integrity. Democrats on Capitol Hill have already tried to respond with a sweeping voting and elections bill that Senate Republicans united to block last week. A separate bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore sections of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court previously weakened, has been similarly dismissed by most Republicans.
Those setbacks, combined with the Supreme Court’s decision, have fueled a sense of urgency among Democrats to act while they still have narrow majorities in the House and Senate. But passing voting legislation at this point would almost certainly require changes to the filibuster, allowing Democrats to act without GOP support.