Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Video: Attorney General Holder Speaks On Voting Rights At The LBJ Library

Attorney General Eric Holder speaking on voting rights at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas - Dec. 13, 2011 - Part 1
Video by David Barrow

Attorney General Eric Holder speaking on voting rights at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas - Dec. 13, 2011 - Part 2
Video by David Barrow

On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson calls on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. Pres. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965, establishing federal Department of Justice oversight of election laws passed by certain southern states with a history of discrimination.

The LBJ Library Archive
Texas Tribune: The warning from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was polite but firm: The U.S. Department of Justice will not stand idly by if it feels Texas intends to halt or reverse gains for minority voting rights.

That was the message Holder delivered on the University of Texas campus at the library of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Holder spoke just as Texas is squaring off with federal government over two major political voting issues: redistricting and voter ID.

Holder said that the redistricting maps legislators drew this year show that gains made under the Voting Rights Act are being challenged by a Legislature intent on protecting incumbents rather than on having candidates compete for votes.

Maps the Republican-dominated Legislature drew, he said, fail to reflect the burgeoning Hispanic growth in Texas, as indicated by the 2010 U.S. Census.

“We intend to argue vigorously at trial that this was the kind of discrimination that Section Five [of the Act] was intended to block,” Holder said, referring to the current federal litigation over the redistricting maps.

A panel of federal judges in San Antonio redrew maps for legislative and congressional districts in Texas, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked those, at least temporarily, last week. The maps that will be used in next year’s elections are still uncertain, and it is unclear whether the issue will be decided before the scheduled primary elections in March.

Texas’ voter ID law, which requires that voters furnish a state-issued photo ID before casting a ballot, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. That date could be in jeopardy, though, because the Justice Department has the authority to review election laws passed in states with a history of racial segregation and discrimination. In Texas, Democrats argue the voter ID law will disenfranchise minorities, the elderly and students, while Republicans and other proponents say it will stamp out voter fraud.

Read the full story @ The Texas Tribune

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