Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver claimed Monday that legislation designed to restore enforcement provisions to the landmark Voting Rights Act would “hijack” elections, destroy “states’ rights,” legalize election fraud, and clear the way for Democrats to seize power and implement “their radical Marxist/socialist agenda.” On Tuesday, Staver nonsensically accused congressional Democrats of resorting to Jim Crow tactics to “suppress the Republican vote” and urged Liberty Counsel supporters to help him “stop the steal” by defeating the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, named for the late civil rights activist and longtime member of Congress.
Liberty Counsel, a religious-right legal group known for its opposition to LGBTQ equality, was part of the crowd of right-wing organizations that opposed HR 1, also known as the For the People Act, which would have overturned many of the voter suppression laws passed by Republican-led states since former President Donald Trump’s reelection bid was rejected by voters. Just a week ago, Staver wrote in an email alert, “I have never seen an attack on free and fair elections like HR 1.”
But now that HR 1 has been blocked for the moment by Senate Republicans’ filibuster, Staver is declaring that another voting rights bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, is “far worse than HR 1!” and “takes HR 1 to a new low.”
Staver falsely claimed in an email alert Monday that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act “will legalize election fraud,” charging that it “enthrones Joe Biden’s DOJ Deep State over local elections!”
In reality, the bill is designed to restore a key enforcement mechanism of the Voting Rights Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court’s conservative justices in a 2013 decision—preclearance by the Justice Department for voting changes that could disproportionately impact minority voters.
“Preclearance is a naked power grab aimed at destroying states’ rights and putting Joe Biden’s government in charge of everything,” Staver warned.
For the record, the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were put in place specifically to address the long and ugly history of racial discrimination in voting carried out by officials who cried “states’ rights.” The John Lewis bill would address the Supreme Court’s 2013 complaint that it was unfair to continue applying preclearance to states based on behavior decades earlier by requiring preclearance of potentially discriminatory voting changes in all 50 states.
Staver claimed that “Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear that Democrats must pass this bill in order to usher in gun control and the rest of her radical agenda.” He wrote:
Passage of the JL Act will cement Democrat power over America. Once in control of all elections, they will implement their radical Marxist/socialist agenda without interference from pesky congressional Republicans who might otherwise block their schemes.
In a follow-up email Tuesday, Staver fumed, “The JL Act will allow the Biden DOJ to implement everything evil in HR 1/S 1/S 2093—AND MUCH MORE!” Staver went on, “This bill will ensure that one party—the Democrat Party—dominates all future elections!”
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act isn’t the only topic Staver has taken to fearmongering about recently. The Liberty Counsel president has also been promoting anti-vaccine alarmism and conspiracy theories and making outlandishly false claims about the proposed Equality Act.