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5 Quotes From Democratic Lawmakers Reflecting on the Voting Rights Act of 1965

By    |   Thursday, 04 Feb 2016 04:14 PM

When the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President B. Lyndon Johnson in 1965, it ensured safeguarding against voter tampering and discrimination, particularly through sections 4 and 5, which mandated that states with a prior history of discrimination against African Americans and other minorities be subjected to a federal pre-clearance before changing any voting laws within the state. The states covered as a whole were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

However, in 2013, the Supreme Court declared Section 4 unconstitutional (thereby making Section 5 invalid), which caused controversy and heated debate between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

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Here are five quotes from Democratic lawmakers reflecting on the Voting Rights Act as it pertains to the act itself as well as the recent 2013 decision:

1. Steny H. Hoyer, House Democratic Whip (Maryland)

“Mr. Speaker, when the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 to invalidate the preclearance formula in the original Voting Rights Act, it issued a challenge to Congress to pass an updated one. That is a challenge Congress must accept. Until Congress acts, millions will continue to face barriers at the ballot box.”
– April 2015, speech to House of Representatives

2. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)

"I will continue to work to find a Senate Republican to join me in introducing bipartisan legislation to restore this landmark law so that every American's right to vote is protected."
– February 2015, The Huffington Post

3. Former U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri)

“I have been a long and strong supporter of civil rights in my whole career. I led the fight to get the voting rights act re-enacted. I have been a strong supporter of affirmative action. I believe in it strongly.”
– January 2004, Fox News

4. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (Georgia)

“I think what the court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its very heart. It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today. Maybe they’re not being denied the right to participate or to register to vote. They’re not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, and even in some of the states outside of the South, there’s been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period. And these men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines. They never had to pass a so-called literacy test. It took us almost a hundred years to get where we are today. So will it take another hundred years to fix it, to change it?”
– June 2013, MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports"

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5. Lyndon B. Johnson, former U.S. president

“This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.”
– August 1965

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When the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President B. Lyndon Johnson in 1965, it ensured safeguarding against voter tampering and discrimination.
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2016-14-04
Thursday, 04 Feb 2016 04:14 PM
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