Gohmert offers to help end racial discrimination against Massachusetts voters

Gohmert appeared to be playing off remarks from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who said during oral arguments in February that Massachusetts now has the highest disparity between black and white voter registration. 

He was also alluding to the Supreme Court's ruling this week that the Voting Rights Act's formula for applying extra scrutiny to state voting laws, which the court struck down, needs to be updated.

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Gohmert made the mocking suggestion to make a point that without an update, even progressive and left-leaning states could be subject to the law.

"I don't know how many of the two senators and representatives from Massachusetts would be willing to join with me to agree to put Massachusetts under the punitive Section 5 [of the act], but I'm certainly willing to go along and do that so that Massachusetts can benefit and get rid of racial discrimination," he said. "It's normally been a forward-thinking state, and so it's very sad that it's regressed in that regard.

"Certainly we can work together on helping improve Massachusetts to the point that, say, Texas is now."

When Roberts made his remarks about Massachusetts in February, Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said Roberts was mistaken, though census data from 2010 shows that Massachusetts has a high disparity of black and white registered voters.

This week, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional language in the Voting Rights Act that uses data from nearly 50 years ago to decide which states need to have their voting laws approved by the federal government. That ruling said five of the six states originally covered by the law have better voting registration today than other states in the country.

Democrats have blasted the ruling as one that will gut the historic voting rights legislation until Congress finds a way to come up with a new formula. They also argued that it was the existence of the language that helped reduce racial disparities in those states.

But many conservatives sided with the court's majority, and said it's unfair to treat these states differently if they have made improvements.

"As the Supreme Court pointed out, of the original six states, five of those states have less racial disparity in voting than the whole rest of the country," Gohmert said. "You are punishing states who have cleaned up their act."

Republicans in the House and Senate have called for an effort to rework the law in light of the Supreme Court's ruling, though Congress adjourned Friday with no clear sign of how quickly that work might get done.

Gohmert was the last House speaker before the House recessed for the July 4 week. Both the House and Senate agreed to recess over the week, instead of holding occasional pro forma sessions.