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June 27, 2014 9:10 AM Yeah, We’re Color-Blind Down South

By Ed Kilgore

Here’s some unsurprising but depressing news from the Montgomery Advertiser’s Mary Troyan:

Congress does not need to update the Voting Rights Act by restoring special federal oversight of elections in a handful of states, Sen. Jeff Sessions said today.
The Alabama Republican, who voted for the 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act, said he can no longer support legislation that singles out certain states for supervision based on their history of discriminating against minority voters.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that the formula Congress used to decide which states needed to have their election procedures pre-approved by the federal government was unconstitutional because it was outdated and didn’t account for improved conditions for minority voters since the 1960s.
Congress is now debating legislation that would write a new formula, based on more recent findings of discrimination. But Sessions said that is unnecessary.

The timing of Sessions’ statement is interesting, coming right as conservatives next door in Mississippi and to some extent nationwide are in a full freakout mode about African-Americans voting in a Republican primary, even though they are “liberal Democrats” and thus are clearly selling their votes for food stamps and Obama Phones. .

It was widely surmised that Eric Cantor’s defeat might sharply reduce the odds of the House acting on a VRA fix. If Republicans retake the Senate this year, any VRA legislation is probably doomed there, too; Sessions is the third ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which also includes “constitutional conservative” leaders Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (the ranking GOP Member is the increasingly wingnutty Farmer Chuck Grassley).

Perhaps Thad Cochran, in an act of gratitude, will champion a VRA fix? Don’t count on it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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