Jul 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Jim Clyburn calls for Congress to pass John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that in order to honor the legacy of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the Senate should pass and President Trump should sign the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, which the House passed under a different name in 2019.

Why it matters: In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a core part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had required certain states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval before changing voting laws. Lewis, a civil rights icon who dedicated his life to fighting for voting rights, did not live to see the law restored before his death on Friday.

What he's saying: "America is great because its people are good. If the people of America ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great. John personified the goodness of this country, and I do believe that that's what the fight is all about now. Restoring America's goodness," Clyburn told CNN's Jake Tapper.

  • "I really think that we would honor him, and we should honor him by creating a new Voting Rights Act to replace the 1965 Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder seven years ago."
  • "So when I get back, I'm going to ask the leadership of the House to consider reintroducing that bill that passed as HR4, I believe, reintroducing that bill and name it the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020."
  • "Let's send it over to the Senate and then Mitch McConnell and the president can demonstrate their real respect for the life and legacy of John Lewis by passing that bill in the Senate and the president signing it."

Clyburn also suggested renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, after Lewis, who was beaten along with hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers by Alabama police in 1965. The bridge is named after a former Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader.

  • "I believe that will give the people of Selma something to rally around," Clyburn said. "I believe that would make a statement for people in this country that we do believe in that pledge, that vision of this country that's in the last phrase of the pledge — with liberty and justice for all."

Go deeper: John Lewis remembered as "one of the greatest heroes of American history"

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