Governors are sent by Him to punish the evildoers and praise the virtuous (1 Peter 2:14).

Congressional Record2017/3/15Senate | House | Extensions

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E325]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO



                          HON. TERRI A. SEWELL

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in protest of President Trump and his Justice Department's failure to protect Americans' voting rights. The right to vote is a sacred right for which Americans have fought for generations. From the battlefields of the Revolutionary War, to the Women's Suffrage Movement, to Bloody Sunday in my hometown of Selma, Alabama, Americans have risked their lives for the right to vote. Unfortunately, The Trump Justice Department recently decided to dismiss their discriminatory purpose claim against Texas's voter ID law. Texas's current draconian Voter ID law places harsh restrictions on minorities and young voters. In 2013, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas claiming that their voter photo identification law, SB 14, violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Since then, two courts have agreed that this law is discriminatory. So it is incredibly disturbing that the new Department of Justice reversed their position and withdrew their lawsuit. This action represents a dramatic shift from the Obama Administration's policy of protecting Americans' voting rights. The American people deserve a Justice Department that values and protects the right to vote. New barriers to voting are being erected across the country, threatening the integrity of our electoral process and our democracy. For example, after the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, many states, like Alabama and Texas responded to the Supreme Court's decision by imposing voter ID laws similar to those of the Jim Crow era. These laws are blatantly discriminatory, undemocratic, and un-American. In Alabama, the state government passed a law requiring a photo ID to vote while simultaneously closing 34 DMW offices. Doing so had a discriminatory effect on 8 out of the 10 counties in Alabama with the highest percentage of Black registered voters. Clearly we cannot yet trust certain states to protect their citizens' right to vote. As Americans, we should all be horrified of these laws and the Department of Justice's failure to fight these regressive measures. States must not be allowed to return to an era of mass-voter discrimination, and historically, it has been the responsibility of the Justice Department to protect Americans from new Jim Crow like laws. Unfortunately, President Trump's Justice Department seems to be rolling back this policy. In 2015, I introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation that would require states with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making any changes to their electoral laws. Specifically, this bill will restore Section 4(b) of the VRA which the Supreme Court invalidated in Shelby County v. Holder. Under the new Trump Administration, it is more important than ever that we pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and have an independent Justice Department that is committed to protecting Americans' right to vote. ____________________

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