LAW OFFICES OF A. DWIGHT PETTIT, P.A.
3606 LIBERTY HEIGHTS AVENUE.. BALTIMORE, MD 21215
February 10, 2021
The White House Office of the Vice President
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
RE: JOHN LEWIS VOTING RIGHTS ACT OPEN LETTER TO VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS
Dear Madam Vice President Harris:
First, my congratulations to you and President Biden on your tremendous victory! Well done!
I am writing to you directly because of a very urgent and important issue which is developing and crystallizing into a matter of grave concern. Having been involved in politics throughout the years, particularly with the 1976 Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign as Maryland Co–Chairman, and then advisor to the Carter Administration after being appointed by the President to the Democratic National Compliance Commission, I respectfully wish to offer some political advice, if I may. As you know, the Voting Rights Act, as amended pursuant to the Supreme Court‘s disastrous ruling in Shelby Co. v. Eric Holder :: 570 US 529 (2013), has been stalled in the U.S. Senate for several years. I know that the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 and expanding voting right laws are items of importance on your and President Biden‘s executive agenda. The reason this matter is now coming to the forefront is because, as you are aware, some states, through the state legislative bodies, are now proposing laws that will renew or reinstate voter suppression and voter intimidation. I thought this was resolved with the enforcement actions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act initiated by Attorney General Eric Holder, but obviously not. The issue here is whether the states have the constitutional right to pass and administer their own voting laws versus the responsibility of the federal government‘s duty to protect the constitutional rights of all its citizens; meaning the right to vote without those rights being impaired, or voters being intimidated.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave the federal government the enforcement powers that we as a nation so desperately needed. The Voting Rights Act as amended, again, must be made law along with the expansion of laws to promote greater voter participation in this nation, e.g., mail–in voting, etc. This is not just for the African American constituency, but also to protect the rights of the Democratic Party and the democracy of this nation as a whole. Therefore, the Voting Rights Act as amended (John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020) and laws pertaining thereto should be put on the front burner of the Administration‘s priorities, just below the President‘s pandemic legislation. If the necessary votes are not in the Senate due to lack of
Republican support, then this legislation, spearheaded by the Democratic Party, should be pushed forward under the Budget Reconciliation Act, or, any procedural means necessary. This, Madam Vice President, is vital to our democracy and our nation.
As a sidebar, my daughter, Nahisha Pettit, had the pleasure of meeting you in Los Angeles, CA at the National Bar Convention, July 2017. You were the guest speaker and awards presenter for the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame inductions. I was one of the inductees, but unable to attend, so my daughter and granddaughter stood in for me. Both were very impressed by your grace and accomplishments. Also, I too, am a Howard University graduate (B.A. 1967, J.D. 1970), a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, and a Mason. My wife, Barbara, is an AKA and a Howard alum as well. Lastly, I am the author of the book “Under Color of Law”, published in 2015, in which I predicted America’s political movement to the right.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to my suggestions regarding this major issue. God’s blessings to you, President Biden, and your families.
A. ‘Dwight Pettit