Text of Letter (PDF)
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06) and Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY-17) led over 40 Congressional Black Caucus members in calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to aggressively protect voting rights and fight against disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, voter purges, and other forms of voter suppression, vote dilution, and election subversion.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the lawmakers urged DOJ to step up efforts to challenge the restrictive voting laws enacted in states across the country, and highlighted the disproportionate disenfranchisement of Black voters. The lawmakers recognized the need for the DOJ to be more aggressive in its work to protect voting rights as Congress continues the necessary work to advance meaningful voting rights legislation.
“Congress looks to you, the Attorney General of the United States, to enforce the Constitution and voting rights laws with unmitigated vigor and tenacity,” the lawmakers wrote. “We write to urge you to leverage the full might of the Department of Justice to defend the sacred right to vote for all Americans.”
The lawmakers noted that at least 19 states have passed laws designed to diminish access to the ballot, with 440 similar bills introduced nationwide in the last year alone. The lawmakers also underscored the role of historic racism in modern disenfranchisement, citing the proposed election police forces in states such as Florida, Georgia, and Arizona as particularly reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.
“While we applaud the litigation that you have filed in some jurisdictions, we encourage and expect you to exponentially increase your efforts to challenge unlawful and unconstitutional voter suppression wherever it occurs,” the lawmakers continued. “Our message is simple: Be creative. Be relentless. Be unapologetic in your commitment to do whatever it takes to ensure that every American has their vote counted no matter how they look or where they live. No lawsuit is too trivial when it comes to the voting rights of citizens.”
Joining Representatives Pressley, Clyburn and Jones in sending the letter are Representatives Alma Adams, André Carson, Hakeem Jeffries, Colin Allred, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Karen Bass, Emanuel Cleaver II, Hank Johnson, Joyce Beatty, Danny K. Davis, Robin L. Kelly, Sanford Bishop, Dwight Evans, Brenda Lawrence, Jamaal Bowman, Al Green, Barbara Lee, Anthony Brown, Jahana Hayes, Donald McEachin, Shontel Brown, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gregory Meeks, Cori Bush, Steven Horsford, Gwen Moore, G.K. Butterfield, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Joe Neguse, Ilhan Omar, Bobby Scott, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Donald Payne, Jr., Terri Sewell, Nikema Williams, Stacey Plaskett, Marilyn Strickland, Frederica Wilson, Bobby Rush and Bennie Thompson.
Rep. Pressley has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to protecting the sacred right to vote and combating voter suppression at all levels of government. She has repeatedly urged the U.S. Senate to abolish the filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and recently called on the Massachusetts State Legislature to pass meaningful voting rights legislation that would boost voter turnout and expand access to the ballot box.