The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement On The Filibuster Of The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

Today’s decision to filibuster the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA)—named after late Congressman John Lewis, who was a civil rights icon and our dear friend and Advisory Board member—is a devastating blow in the fight for voting rights. The John Lewis VRAA would have restored Sections 4b and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which set up a coverage formula and preclearance requirement, and protected our freedom to vote once again. This vital piece of legislation would have ensured that changes to voting laws that could discriminate against voters based on race or background were federally reviewed so that we would all have an equal say in our future. Our democracy does not work when laws restrict Americans’ access to voting based on the color of their skin, their political party, or their zip code. By preventing this bill from even coming to a debate, our elected officials have failed the American people and our democracy today. 

As a result of last year’s record-breaking youth voter turnout, voting rights have been under attack in 2021. In addition to 19 states enacting 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, the Supreme Court’s decision this year in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee weakened Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, hindering citizens’ ability to challenge discriminatory policies. And now a redistricting cycle is underway that has the potential to redefine how Americans are represented in Congress and state legislatures for the next decade. Given these extreme challenges, the protections offered by the John Lewis VRAA would have been critical in ensuring that all Americans’ voices are fairly heard in our democracy. 

The Andrew Goodman Foundation exists to continue the legacy of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered by the KKK for registering Black Americans in Mississippi to vote. Their deaths catalyzed momentum for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which John Lewis and other civil rights leaders worked tirelessly to pass. While The Andrew Goodman Foundation is grieved by today’s decision, we will not let it deter us from joining with young people across the country to demand federal legislation that will expand, protect, and standardize voting rights for all Americans.