Friday, June 14, 2019
We need more ideas like the one Senator Kamala Harris of California proposed last week to stop abortion laws from going into effect unless the federal government agrees they comply with Roe v. Wade.
This idea, known as preclearance, is widely considered the single most effective civil rights tool in American history, because it blocks bad policies before they can take root and spread harm across generations.
Ms. Harris’s proposal focuses on laws that harm women. But the concept ought to be extended to racial disadvantage. Every presidential candidate should offer similar proposals in areas like policing, housing, education and transportation. It’s the best way to stop discrimination.
Ms. Harris modeled her idea on a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which for decades allowed the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington to prevent harmful voting laws in places with chronic discrimination. Preclearance was created to combat the pernicious methods Southern states used to stop black people from voting after the 15th Amendment prohibited the states from doing so outright.