In the wake of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s claim that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act amounts to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” former President Bill Clinton offered a very different vision of the law in an exclusive statement emailed to ThinkProgress today:
The Voting Rights Act is one of the most powerful tools Americans have to fight injustice, and its protection is fundamental to our democracy. Since the Act’s enactment in 1965, disciplined, systematic efforts to undermine its safeguards by disenfranchising younger, poorer, minority, and disabled voters — some even more determined today than they were 48 years ago — are reminding us of the fragility of this very precious right. As America becomes younger, more diverse, and more vibrant, our response must be to embrace our common humanity, to widen the circle of opportunity, and to build a country where every American has a voice in the future — a voice that our vote provides and our government must protect. This is not the time to weaken those protections, but rather an opportunity to redouble our efforts to affirm them.
President Clinton previously described efforts by Republican governors and lawmakers to undermine voting rights the most determined effort to restrict the franchise “ since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting.”