President Obama told civil rights leaders this week that his administration would work to strengthen the Voting Rights Act in light of a Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision.
After a White House meeting with more than a dozen attorneys, state lawmakers and civil rights activists, Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted that the administration wants “to ensure every eligible American has the right to vote.”
The meeting came a month after the Supreme Court struck down the provision that required the federal government to pre-clear changes to voting systems in states that have a history of racial discrimination, mostly in the South.
The Obama administration and other critics of the decision have asked Congress to restore that provision.
Some of Obama’s guests noted that the high court struck down only one part of the act, and most of it remains intact.
They also said several states, some emboldened by the court’s decision, are moving to suppress voting by minorities through voter ID laws and changing district lines. They said they would push Congress to beef up federal oversight of state voting systems in light of the ruling.
The Supreme Court decision “has opened the floodgates to discrimination at the ballot box and potentially set our nation back 50 years,” stated NAACP Chairman of the Board Roslyn Brock, who attended the meeting with Obama.
Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network and an MSNBC talk show host, said Obama and aides met with a “broad coalition of civil rights and voting rights” groups. Attorney General Eric Holder and Labor Secretary Tom Perez also attended the session.
Obama and the group discussed both a legal and legislative strategy on voting rights.
Texas State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio and chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, noted that a lawsuit against voting changes in Texas is pending, and the Obama administration is joining it.
“There is litigation happening right now,” Fischer said.
The Bay Area Restore Section 5 Movement will hold its next meeting Tueday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St. in Berkeley. The organzation will host an “in the streets” demonstration Satuday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p..m., at San Francisco Citi Hall Plaza.
For information go to: RestoreSection5Movement.org. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 156797, San Francisco, CA 94115-6797.