Thursday, July 6, 2006

To Defend Our Freedom, We Must Defend Voting Rights

by Jesse Jackson
Published on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 by the Chicago Sun-Times
Read the entire article at:

" 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.'  As we celebrate the 230th anniversary of America's independence, we must heed the warning of abolitionist and patriot Wendell Phillips. The liberties we celebrate are not written in stone. They must be renewed and defended by every generation. And they must be guarded vigilantly against those who would undermine them."
If the greatest liberty is the freedom of speech and assembly, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, then the greatest power to enforce our liberty is the vote.

For the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act -- passed after Bloody Sunday in Selma -- was essential to transforming the South.

The act empowered the federal government to police the states that were using a range of devices to suppress African-American votes.

The act required that any change in election laws in the states with a history of segregation be pre-cleared -- and that none be allowed that would diminish the right or the power of minority voters.

In Georgia, a right-wing Republican legislature passed a law demanding that every properly registered voter show a state issued photo ID -- a driver's license or a state substitute -- to be able to vote.

Partisan Republicans were using phantom fears of fraudulent voting to suppress the votes of hundreds of thousands of minorities.

Now in a primary scheduled for July, the state of Georgia will witness the racially biased suppression of legally registered voters.

In Texas, Tom DeLay -- indicted for allegedly illegally laundering the money of corporations to achieve his end -- used the partisan GOP state legislature to engineer an off-year gerrymandering of Texas legislative districts, overturning the redistricting ordered by the courts.

The professionals in Justice opposed clearance of the gerrymandered scheme -- but once again were overruled by the partisan political appointees.

Last week a badly divided Supreme Court approved the Texas gerrymander, even as it ruled that one district violated minority rights.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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