Statement by People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas
Today President Bush signed into law the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas called on the President to make today’s signing the start of a new era of Voting Rights Act enforcement by his administration.
“President Bush has done the right thing by signing the Voting Rights Act reauthorization. But it is not enough. A right without a remedy is like a bell without a clapper – hollow and empty.
“President Bush must make a moral and legal commitment to the civil rights leaders gathered for the signing that he is interested in more than an election year photo-op. He owes it to all Americans to ensure that the Voting Rights Act is enforced.
“Unfortunately, that is not the record of this administration – by a long shot. His administration’s well-documented and unprecedented politicization of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has dramatically undermined voting rights enforcement. The administration has turned a blind eye to voter suppression tactics moving in states across the country – photo identification provisions, citizenship requirements, and provisional ballots. Voter suppression and intimidation continue to be a problem and continue to disenfranchise voters. But the Bush administration still pretends that discrimination is not a major issue for millions of Americans.
“This administration has too often provided plenty of lip service and little to no action to protect our most vulnerable citizens. It has aggressively moved to undermine the rights and protections of minorities and other Americans through every means at its disposal, including administrative, legislative, legal, and through judicial nominations. We invite the President to take this opportunity to rethink his administration’s commitment to civil rights enforcement.”