U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday pledged to use the full force of the Justice Department to defend the Voting Rights Act, one of the keystones of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Speaking in Columbia, S.C., on the federal holiday honoring the birth of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Holder defended the goals of the Voting Rights Act. The law prohibited practices that prevented African Americans from going to the polls, and it gave federal agencies new powers to ensure that voting was more accessible. It went into effect in 1965 and has been extended four times, most recently in 2006.
“Protecting the right to vote, ensuring meaningful access, and combating discrimination must be viewed, not only as a legal issue, but as a moral imperative,” Holder said, according to prepared remarks distributed by the Justice Department. “And ensuring that every eligible citizen has the right to vote must become our common cause.
“Let me assure you, for today’s Department of Justice, our commitment to strengthening — and to fulfilling — our nation’s promise of equal opportunity and equal justice has never been stronger,” he said later.
Holder spoke at a rally protesting South Carolina’s voter identification law, which the Justice Department has blocked, arguing that it violates the Voting Rights Act. He spoke just days before Saturday’s South Carolina GOP presidential primary.
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SOURCE: Los Angeles Times