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Civil rights groups urge Congress to renew Voting Rights Act after House vote delayed

[JURIST] Civil rights groups called Monday for the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text; DOJ backgrounder] before Congress takes its Fourth of July recess. At a news conference in Atlanta, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) [advocacy website] and the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta singled out two Republican lawmakers [ACLU press release], accusing them of holding up the legislation that would renew the VRA's provisions [HR 9 summary; PDF text]. The bill, known as the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, was scheduled for a vote in the House on June 20 but was held up [JURIST report].

The two lawmakers, Reps. Lynn Westmoreland and Charlie Norwood [official websites] object to provisions in Section 5 of the VRA that require federal oversight for nine Southern states, and they propose amendments they say modernize the bill [Norwood press release]. The ACLU, however, describes the proposed changes as a "poison pill" [ACLU letter]. AP has more.

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