- Sopranos star James Gandolfini dies in Italy
- Special Report: Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither
- End to Fed stimulus, China slowdown rattles swathe of world investments
- Arizona killer who asked for speedy execution found dead in cell
- UPDATE 2-Storm Barry heads for Mexico Gulf coast oil installations
Defending U.S. voting rights is top priority: Holder
SELMA, Alabama |
SELMA, Alabama (Reuters) - The U.S. government must make a top priority of defending the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees the right of ethnic minorities to cast ballots, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Sunday.
The Supreme Court is reviewing a ruling that upholds a provision of the act under which 16 states and some counties, mainly in the South, are prevented from making changes to their voting laws without federal approval.
Plaintiffs challenging a renewal of the act say times have changed since the 1960s, blacks are no longer excluded from voting and the act amounts to unwarranted interference in state affairs.
"We must commit ourselves to continue to defend the Voting Rights Act that is under attack," Holder said, arguing that the task is just as important as reviving the U.S. economy and fighting foreign wars.
Passed in 1965, the act outlawed literacy and character tests and property requirements to determine whether a person was eligible to vote. Southern states had used the requirements to keep blacks from the polls.
The act is viewed as a key gain of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that used non-violent protest as a means to end racial segregation in the South and win the right for African Americans there to vote.
Holder, who is the first black attorney general, was speaking at an event to mark the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday", a voting rights march in Selma in 1965 that was brutally repressed by Alabama state troopers.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this