Signing is one thing. Enforcement another. Read on.
Students studying the VRA… here’s a learning tool kit…..click the blue line below for President Bush’s remarks at the White House signing ceremony and reaction from Democratic congressional leaders…and a useful fact sheet from the White House.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 27, 2006
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN SIGNING OF H.R. 9,
THE FANNIE LOU HAMER, ROSA PARKS, AND CORETTA SCOTT KING
VOTING RIGHTS ACT REAUTHORIZATION AND AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2006
The South Lawn
9:34 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good morning. Welcome. Thanks for being here on this special day. Please be seated. America began with a Declaration that all men are created equal. This Declaration marked a tremendous advance in the story of freedom, yet it also contained a contradiction: Some of the same men who signed their names to this self-evident truth owned other men as property. By reauthorizing this act, Congress has reaffirmed its belief that all men are created equal; its belief that the new founding started by the signing of the bill by President Johnson is worthy of our great nation to continue. (Applause.)
I’m proud to be here with our Attorney General and members of my Cabinet, the leaders of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. I thank the bill sponsors, I thank the members of the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate so very much representatives of the Hamer family who have joined us — (applause) — representatives of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute who have joined us — (applause) — and members of the King family, in particular Reverend Bernice King and Martin Luther King, thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
I’m honored to be here with civil rights leaders like Dr. Dorothy Height — (applause) — Julian Bond, the Chairman of the NAACP — (applause) — Bruce Gordon, thank you Bruce — (applause) — Reverend Lowery, it’s good to see you again, sir — (applause) — fortunately I got the mic this time. (Laughter.) I’m proud to be here with Marc Morial. Thanks for coming Marc. (Applause.) Juanita Abernathy is with us today. Jesse Jackson, good to see you, Jesse. (Applause.) Al Sharpton — (applause) — Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Frances are with us. (Applause.)
A lot of other folks who care deeply about this issue. We welcome you here. It’s good to welcome the mayor. Mr. Mayor, good to see you. Thanks for coming. Tony Williams. (Applause.) Everything is fine in the neighborhood, I appreciate it. (Laughter.) And the Mayor of Selma, Alabama, James Perkins, is with us. Mr. Mayor, proud you’re here. (Applause.) Welcome, sir.
The right of ordinary men and women to determine their own political future lies at the heart of the American experiment, and it is a right that has been won by the sacrifice of patriots. The Declaration of Independence was born on the stand for liberty taken at Lexington and Concord. The amendments to our Constitution that outlawed slavery and guaranteed the right to vote came at the price of a terrible civil war.
The Voting Rights Act that broke the segregationist lock on the ballot box rose from the courage shown on a Selma bridge one Sunday afternoon in March of 1965. On that day, African Americans, including a member of the United States Congress, John Lewis — (applause) — marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a protest intended to highlight the unfair practices that kept them off the voter rolls.
The brutal response showed America why a march was necessary. When the marchers reached the far side of the bridge, they were met by state troopers and civilian posse bearing billy clubs and whips — weapons they did not hesitate to use. The images of policemen using night sticks on peaceful protestors were carried on television screens across the country, and they stung the conscience of a slumbering America.
One week after Selma, President Lyndon Johnson took to the airwaves to announce that he planned to submit legislation that would bring African Americans into the civic life of our nation. Five months after Selma, he signed the Voting Rights Act into law in the Rotunda of our nation’s capitol. (Applause.) In a little more than a year after Selma, a newly enfranchised black community used their power at the ballot box to help defeat the sheriff who had sent men with whips and clubs to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on that bloody Sunday.
For some parts of our country, the Voting Rights Act marked the first appearance of African Americans on the voting rolls since Reconstruction. And in the primaries and elections that followed the signing of this act, many African Americans pulled the voting lever for the first time in their lives.
Eighty-one year old Willie Bolden was the grandson of slaves, and in the spring of 1966, he cast his first ballot in Alabama’s Democratic primary. He told a reporter, “It felt good to me. It made me think I was sort of somebody.” In the America promised by our founders, every citizen is a somebody, and every generation has a responsibility to add its own chapter to the unfolding story of freedom. (Applause.)
In four decades since the Voting Rights Act was first passed, we’ve made progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never ending. We’ll continue to build on the legal equality won by the civil rights movement to help ensure that every person enjoys the opportunity that this great land of liberty offers. And that means a decent education and a good school for every child, a chance to own their own home or business, and the hope that comes from knowing that you can rise in our society by hard work and God-given talents. (Applause.)
Today, we renew a bill that helped bring a community on the margins into the life of American democracy. My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court. (Applause.) This legislation is named in honor of three heroes of American history who devoted their lives to the struggle of civil rights: Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King. (Applause.) And in honor of their memory and their contributions to the cause of freedom, I am proud to sign the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. (Applause.)
(The act is signed.) (Applause.)
END 9:42 A.M. EDT
from the Dems…
Pelosi and Reid: Bush Must Do More than Sign the VRA, He Must Enforce It
Washington, D.C.With the President today signing the much-needed and sadly-delayed reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today issued the following joint statement.
Too often, political appointees in the Bush Justice Department have injected partisan bias into the Department’s Voting Rights Act decisions, repeatedly overruling the non-partisan legal staff and hiring ideologues with no experience in civil rights for career vacancies. They have repeatedly failed to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the President signed with great fanfare today. With that failure, the voting rights of the American people have been diminished. As the attention from the ceremony dims and enforcement of the VRA moves forward, we call on the President to end the politicization of voting rights enforcement at his Justice Department. The President must now ensure that his words are met in the deeds of his Administration so that the voting rights of all Americans are truly enhanced by today’s action.?
# # #
Background from the White House……….
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 27, 2006
Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006
Today, The President Signed Into Law The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, And Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was designed to restore the birthright of every American the right to choose our leaders. It has been vital to guaranteeing the right to vote for generations of Americans and has helped millions of our citizens enjoy the full promise of freedom.
In Signing This Bill, President Bush Honored The Memory Of Three Women Who Devoted Their Lives To The Struggle For Civil Rights Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, And Coretta Scott King. The Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 was named in honor of these three American heroes.
The Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006 Reaffirms A Commitment To Enforce The Right To Vote For All Americans
The Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006 Extends The VRA For 25 Years, Extending:
The prohibition against the use of tests or devices to deny the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election; and
The requirement for certain States and local governments to provide voting materials in multiple languages.
The New Law Also Amends The VRA With Regard To:
The use of election examiners and observers;
Voting qualifications or standards intended to diminish, or with the effect of diminishing, the ability of U.S. citizens on account of race or color to elect preferred candidates; and
Award of attorney fees in enforcement proceedings to include expert fees and other reasonable costs of litigation.
The President Has Committed His Administration To Vigorously Enforce The Provisions Of This Law And To Defend It In Court. The President will also continue to work with Congress to ensure that our country lives up to our guiding principle that all men and women are created equal.
The Administration Will Continue To Build On The Legacy Of The Civil Rights Movement To Help Ensure That Every Child Enjoys The Opportunities America Offers. These opportunities include the right to a decent education in a good school, the chance to own a home or small business, and the hope that comes from knowing you can rise in our society through hard work and using your talents.
History Of The Voting Rights Act Of 1965
In March 1965, African Americans Marched Across The Edmund Pettus Bridge In Selma, Alabama, To Protest The Unfair And Racist Practices That Kept Them Off The Voter Rolls.
When The Marchers Reached The Far Side Of The Bridge, They Were Met By State Troopers And A Civilian Posse Bearing Tear Gas, Billy Clubs, And Whips. This group brutally attacked the peacefully protesting men, women, and children.
One Week After The Selma Incident, President Johnson Announced That He Planned To Submit Legislation That Would Bring African Americans Into The Civic Life Of Our Nation.
Five Months After Selma, President Johnson Signed The Voting Rights Act Into Law. For some parts of our country, the Voting Rights Act marked the first appearance of African Americans on the voting rolls since Reconstruction following the Civil War.
# # #
from the ACLU…………
ACLU Applauds As President Bush Signs Voting Rights Act Reauthorization
WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded President Bush as he signed into law the “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.” Congress rejected attempts to dilute the original intent of the bill and passed a “clean” reauthorization bill, which renews key provisions that would otherwise expire in 2007.
“We applaud President Bush for signing into law this bill so vital to American democracy,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “However, passage of this bill does not mean we can rest. Sadly, voting discrimination still takes place. Renewal of the Voting Rights Act must be followed by vigorous enforcement by the executive branch and the courts.”
Fredrickson attended today’s signing ceremony with LaShawn Warren, ACLU Legislative Counsel for Civil Rights. The ACLU had waged a massive campaign to promote the act’s renewal. The efforts included:
* A comprehensive report introduced into the congressional record: “The Case for Extending and Amending the Voting Rights Act: Voting Rights Litigation, 1982-2006” which documents 293 ACLU cases brought in 31 states to protect the rights to vote;
*Congressional testimony by ACLU President Nadine Strossen and ACLU Voting Rights Project Director Laughlin McDonald;
*A Voting Rights Act documentary which aired on Court TV;
*A public policy report introduced into the congressional record: “Promises to Keep: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act 2006, which details the practical effects of the Voting Rights Act;
*Web action alerts that generated more than 100,000 phone calls and e-mails from ACLU activists;
“Unfortunately, equal voting rights still do not exist in many parts of the country,” said Warren. “We remain confident that renewal of this historic civil rights law will play an essential role in the struggle to eliminate discrimination in voting.”
To read more about the ACLU’s campaign to renew the Voting Rights Act, go to:
from rep. jesse jackson jr. ….
PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS 1965 VRA EXTENSION
Keep Your Eyes On Enforcement And Interpretation
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., today said, “I want to congratulate
President George W. Bush for signing the bipartisan Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa
Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments
Act of 2006. Originally signed by President Johnson on August 6, 1965, it
was renewed and expanded in 1970, 1975 and 1982 for 25-years (2007).
Today’s signing extends the temporary sections of the law for another 25
years, until 2032. The historic 1965 Voting Rights Act was the implementing
legislation for the 1870 ratified 15th Amendment – 95 years later – which
outlawed discrimination in voting on the basis of race. It opened the
voting booth to millions of Americans formerly excluded by racially
discriminatory voting practices.
“Now that the President has signed the Voting Rights Act Extension, the
issue is whether Bush’s Justice Department will enforce the law. According
to the Center for American Progress, `Since 2002, the Bush administration
has quietly filled the ranks of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights
Division – the nation’s top enforcer of anti-discrimination laws – with
lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in
civil rights. According to William Yeomans, a 24-year division veteran who
retired last year, morale among career attorneys has plummeted, the
division’s productivity has suffered and the pace of civil rights
enforcement has slowed. Although a committee of career veterans had made
hiring decisions for decades, former Attorney General John Ashcroft changed
the rules in 2003 to minimize input from staff, allowing the process to be
handled completely by political appointees.
“The second issue is whether the conservatives Bush has appointed to the
federal courts will interpret it in a way that allows precedent regarding
the Voting Rights Act to stand.
“Finally, the American people must be educated to know that they still don’t
have an individual citizenship right to vote in the Constitution. Our
voting system is based on the 10th Amendment – states’ rights – which is why
the 7,800 voting jurisdictions in the United States are all separate and
unequal and subject to state laws and local control. That’s why I have
offered H.J. Res. 28, which gives the American people the `right to vote’
and Congress the power to create a unified voting system across America.
“We must remain eternally vigilant when it comes to democracy and its crown
jewel, the vote,” Jackson concluded.