(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of two dozen Democrats running for president, told an MSNBC town hall Tuesday night that women's "reproductive health" is under attack in a number of state legislatures.
She said she's "done" with it.
"There are states that keep passing these laws," Harris said.
"And so when elected, I'm going to put in place and require that states that have a history of passing legislation that is designed to prevent or limit a woman's access to reproductive health care, that those laws have to come before my Department of Justice for a review and approval, and until we determine that they are constitutional, they will not take effect.”
Harris said her plan is modeled on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which required certain states with a history of racial discrimination to get "preclearance" from the Justice Department to any changes in state voting laws.
But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that Section 5 of the law "required States to obtain federal permission before enacting any law related to voting -- a drastic departure from basic principles of federalism. And (Section) 4 of the Act applied that requirement only to some States -- an equally dramatic departure from the principle that all States enjoy equal sovereignty."
The Supreme Court decision noted that the Voting Rights Act relied on decades-old history -- not "current conditions" -- to decide which states needed to submit to federal oversight in their voting laws.
Harris agreed that the Supreme Court objected to the law singling out states based on what happened 50 years ago.
"What I am putting in place, and will put in place, is it will be based on that state's history over the last 25 years. And in that regard, then we will review those (state abortion restrictions) through the United States Department of Justice and make a decision, are they conforming with the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court or not?
"And if they are not, then that law will be invalidated and it will not be able to be applied to the women of that state."
The audience applauded.