More than 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, urging the Justice Department to be “relentless” in challenging state laws that restrict voting rights.
The letter — led by Democratic Reps. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Mondaire Jones (N.Y.) — was meant to communicate to the DOJ that the agency needs to “be more aggressive in its work to protect voting rights,” according to a news release from Pressley’s office.
“The future of our democracy is at stake,” the letter says, highlighting how laws established over the past year to restrict access to the vote in more than a dozen states disproportionately disenfranchise Black voters.
Lawmakers condemned these Republican-led efforts to limit voter access as “unabashedly racist and partisan attacks on our nation’s democratic principles.”
In Tuesday’s letter, Black lawmakers urged the DOJ to “exponentially increase” such efforts.
“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,” the letter reads. “No lawsuit is too trivial when it comes to the voting rights of citizens.”
A DOJ spokesperson confirmed the agency’s receipt of the letter, but declined to comment further.
Over the past year, Republicans at the federal level have repeatedly blocked voting rights legislation. Last month, Senate Republicans filibustered sweeping voting rights legislation, and in a subsequent vote, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) voted against their colleagues’ efforts to change filibuster rules in order to pass the legislation with a simple majority.
Hundreds of Republican-led measures to restrict access to the vote have advanced at the state level, and more than a dozen states have seen such measures become law, including Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ― where conservative justices hold a majority ― allowed a Republican-drawn congressional map in Alabama to stay in place, halting a lower court order that said the map violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised Black voters.
Voting restrictions disproportionately keep Black, Latinx and low-income voters from the ballot.
“Black citizens continue to be disproportionately targeted for disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, voter purges, and other forms of voter suppression,” lawmakers wrote in their letter Tuesday. “This coordinated campaign to oppress Black voters is rooted in white supremacy.”