Entries in Civil Rights (3)


Civil Rights Groups Vow to Overturn NC Voting Reform Law

Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- North Carolina's sweeping and restrictive new voting law is facing multiple legal challenges from civil rights groups that argue it discriminates against black and young voters.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday, which goes into effect in 2016. Among other things, the law requires voters to bring state-issued photo IDs to the polls, cuts down early voting time by one week, eliminates same-day voter registration, and bans pre-registration for youth voters who will turn 18 on Election Day.

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other groups, immediately filed a legal challenge that argues the law attempts to suppress minority voters, thereby violating the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has filed a similar suit.

Allison Riggs, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement, "Taken together, the new restrictions in this law will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, depriving many of our most vulnerable citizens from being able to easily exercise a constitutional right."

A third lawsuit will challenge the voter ID provision under the state's constitution, according to The Nation.

McCrory and Republican lawmakers noted that voter ID laws are popular in opinion polls and stated that the North Carolina law is simply meant to prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats and civil rights groups argue that voter fraud is a negligible problem in North Carolina. And moreover, they say that Republicans are simply trying to improve their chances of winning elections by preventing young and minority voters -- who tend to vote Democrat -- from casting ballots.

North Carolina is the latest battleground on voting rights. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of racial discrimination, including North Carolina, to get federal permission before changing their voting laws.

Since the restrictions were removed, several states have moved swiftly to enact new voting laws. The Justice Department has already indicated it will pursue legal action against Texas for its new voter ID law, and North Carolina could be next on the list.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Biden Tells NAACP Romney, Republicans Threaten Civil Rights

ABC News(HOUSTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden got a warm welcome today at the NAACP Convention in Houston, one day after rival Mitt Romney was booed during remarks before the same group. And while the vice president did not directly address treatment of the presumptive GOP nominee, he suggested the frosty reception was not misguided, warning that Romney and Republicans are threats to the group’s reason for existence.

“On civil rights, your raison d’etre, the reason for our existence,” Biden said, “I want to remind everybody of one thing: Remember, remember what this [organization], at its core, was all about… It was all about the franchise. It was about the right to vote. Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things.”

“Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” he questioned, alluding to efforts by Republicans to impose more stringent voting requirements in states around the country.

“I didn’t think we’d be back. I remember working with Republicans — and by the way, this ain’t your father’s Republican Party — remember working with Republicans on motor-voter, on expanding the franchise on early voting, on voting by mail. Some of these were Republican ideas. But this is not the Republican Party here today, nor Romney’s."

“They see a different future, where voting is made harder, not easier,” he said, “where the Justice Department is even prohibited from challenging any of those efforts to suppress votes.”

“Folks, there’s a lot more to say, but this is preaching to the choir,” Biden concluded before the adoring crowd.

Biden used his address, billed as a campaign speech, to energize the African-American constituency that overwhelmingly backs Obama and Democrats and may play a crucial role in a handful of battleground states in November.

He offered a full-throated defense of the administration’s signature accomplishments, hailing the 2009 auto bailout as “not popular but it was critical”; the call to target Osama bin Laden as a “bold decision with profound risks;” and the health care law that “required [Obama] early on to use up all of his political capital” but which led to historic benefits for African-Americans.

The vice president also suggested there has been a conspiracy to obstruct Obama from the beginning of his term, citing the lack of Republican support for the Recovery Act, the health care law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the debt ceiling debate last summer.

“Their discipline is amazing. They have never let up. But neither has my guy, neither has Barack Obama,” he said. “He has not given up. He continues to be driven by the character of his convictions. Folks, in the end, that’s what the presidency is all about.”

President Obama, who had faced some criticism for not attending the convention, delivered a video message, telling NAACP members, “I stand on your shoulders. And at the NAACP you have always believed in the American promise, that idea that no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from, America is the place where you can make it if you try.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mississippi Governor Clarifies Controversial Civil Rights Comments

Photo Courtesy - JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- A day after Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour sparked criticism with comments he made about his experiences growing up in the south during the civil rights era, he sought to clarify those remarks, calling that period of history a “difficult and painful era.”

“When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there," Barbour said in a statement on Tuesday. "My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.”

At issue are comments he made in an interview with the Weekly Standard in which he appeared to downplay the tension of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” Barbour told the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson.

The remarks drew a sharp rebuke from the president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, members of the left-leaning blogosphere and a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, among others.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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