Respect John Lewis’ Legacy and Pass His Voting Rights Bill

Republicans gave their condolences to the late senator, but their actions are hypocritical to Lewis’ life’s work

Anjali Enjeti
ZORA

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Photo: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images

On Rep. John Lewis’ last journey, which will eventually end today at South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia, he stopped at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to lie in state, where government officials paid their final respects. These included Republican lawmakers who have worked against Lewis, and the causes he has supported, for decades. Their presence was purely performative. It was a photo op they could tweet to their followers.

There is a far more sincere way for Republicans to commemorate Lewis’ devotion to public service. The Senate could pass HR 4, recently renamed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. The House initially passed this measure in December, but it has been languishing in the Senate ever since. It would restore a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court gutted in its 2013 decision Shelby County v. Holder. Specifically, the Lewis Voting Rights Act would require that states with a history of voter suppression receive federal oversight of their proposed changes to election procedures. The passage of this act into law would be one of the best ways to continue Lewis’ legacy.

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Anjali Enjeti
ZORA
Writer for

Journalist, critic & columnist at ZORA. Essay collection SOUTHBOUND (UGA Press) & debut novel THE PARTED EARTH (Hub City Press), spring ’21. anjalienjeti.com.