"Actions speak louder than words."
That was the message Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent his Republican colleagues Thursday in a blog post on Medium, in which he urged the Republicans who repudiated President Donald Trump's response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia to back up their anti-racist public pronouncements by working to bolster—rather than weaken—voting rights, which have been under near constant attack by Trump and GOP-dominated legislatures throughout the country.
Many argued in the aftermath of Charlottesville that Republicans who did disavow Trump's response should not be praised for clearing an "extraordinarily low bar" by denouncing neo-Nazis, particularly as they work to implement Trump's bigoted policies. Schumer is attempting to force Republicans into a substantial denunciation of racism, beyond mere rhetoric.
"In the past year and a half alone, federal courts have struck down discriminatory voting laws in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin."
—Sen. Chuck Schumer"I have been encouraged to see a good number of my Republican colleagues in the Congress speak so strongly against the hateful agenda of the white supremacist, neo-Nazi movement," Schumer wrote. "But we need more than just words — we also need action. And I believe that one important way that Congress can begin to heal this painful divide in our country when we return in September is by showing that we can come together to stop the systemic disenfranchisement of American voters."
Schumer points specifically to the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, which gutted Voting Rights Act of 1965 and "open[ed] the door to the same voter suppression tactics that existed before the Voting Rights Act was passed."
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In the past year and a half alone, federal courts have struck down discriminatory voting laws in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. And some legislators, as they attempted to pass these types of bills, openly admitted their goal was to suppress minorities from voting. In the case of North Carolina, the court found that the legislature targeted African-American voters with "almost surgical precision." This is despicable. And now there is something even more ominous happening now within the Trump administration.
Trump's response to Charlottesville certainly was "shocking," Schumer writes, but equally alarming is "the methodical and pernicious way in which his administration is promoting discrimination, both subtle and not so subtle, in its policies and actions — especially when it comes to undermining the universal right of every American to vote."
To combat these trends, and to ensure that the Trump administration's efforts to undermine the rights of black and Latino voters, Schumer put forward two demands:
- "Disband the Election Integrity Commission," which is an illustration of "how the appalling failure to use the right words and stand up to hate in the aftermath of Charlottesville is made real in the form of policy."
- "Hold a series of public hearings on the status of voting rights in America...where experts can discuss policies like same-day registration as well as alleged voter fraud."
Schumer's article comes as civil rights groups are celebrating a major victory over Texas Republicans' attempt to enact a discriminatory voter ID law—an attempt that has been mirrored in over 30 states throughout the country. A federal judge on Wednesday issued a permanent injunction against the Texas GOP's measure.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, applauded Schumer's proposals on social media.