Black voting rights under threat in GOP supermajority states, lawmakers say

By | April 30, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

State Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson was standing in front of the Florida House of Representatives, recounting being spat on for sitting at Whites-only lunch counters during the civil rights movement. The 75-year-old was trying to impress on her Republican colleagues how hard she and others had fought for voting rights and how a plan to eliminate a congressional seat held by a Black Democrat would again seriously diminish the political power of Black Floridians.

When she was told her time was up, she continued speaking, and her microphone was cut off. Other Black members of the House shouted in anger that the Black vote was under attack. They chanted “We will not be denied” and sang “We Shall Overcome.” The redistricting map was passed anyway, a year ago Friday.

“They do what they do because they can. Not because there’s a policy or a rule or even a reason, but just because they can,” Hinson said of the Republican supermajority that runs the Florida state House. “I watched every development of the expulsions in Tennessee. I saw the parallels to what happened to us last year instantly. Every civil right accomplished in the ’60s is under attack. Every one.”

The expulsions of Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the Tennessee House by Republican leaders this month hit a nerve with Black politicians and activists across the South. Conservative White Republicans dominate state-level politics throughout the region, and they are often accused of wielding their power to suppress the will of Black voters, who overwhelmingly back Democrats.

Republican lawmakers have supermajorities — which allow them to override governors’ vetoes and pass virtually any piece of legislation without a single Democratic vote — in at least one chamber of the state legislatures in all former confederate states except Georgia, Texas and Virginia. In North Carolina and Louisiana, a Democrat in each legislature recently flipped to the GOP, giving Republicans a supermajority to overturn potential vetoes by their Democratic governors. [Continue reading…]