SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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VOTING RIGHTS ACT: EVIDENCE OF CONTINUED NEED
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MARCH 8, 2006
Serial No. 109103
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
DARRELL ISSA, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTEVE KING, Iowa
TOM FEENEY, Florida
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel
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Subcommittee on the Constitution
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio, Chairman
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
STEVE KING, Iowa
TOM FEENEY, Florida
JERROLD NADLER, New York
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
PAUL B. TAYLOR, Chief Counsel
E. STEWART JEFFRIES, Counsel
HILARY FUNK, Counsel
KIMBERLY BETZ, Full Committee Counsel
DAVID LACHMANN, Minority Professional Staff Member
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MARCH 8, 2006
The Honorable Steve Chabot, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio, and Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution
The Honorable Robert C. Scott, a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution
The Honorable Melvin L. Watt, a Representative in Congress from the State of North Carolina, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution
The Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
The Honorable Chris Van Hollen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Maryland, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution
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The Honorable David Scott, a Representative in Congress from the State of Georgia
The Honorable Bill Lann Lee, Chair, National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, and former Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Ms. Nadine Strossen, President, American Civil Liberties Union, and Professor of Law, New York Law School
Mr. Wade Henderson, Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
The Honorable Joe Rogers, Commissioner, National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, and former Lieutenant Governor of Colorado
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAPPENDIX
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Appendix to the Statements of the Honorable Bill Lann Lee and the Honorable Joe Rogers, ''Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act at Work, 19822005,'' a report by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act
Appendix to the Statements of the Honorable Bill Lann Lee and the Honorable Joe Rogers, ''Highlights of Hearings of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, 2005,'' a report by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act
Appendix to the Statement of Nadine Strossen, ''VOTE: The Case for Extending an Amending the Voting Rights Act, Voting Rights Litigation, 19822006,'' a report of the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union
Appendix to the Statement of Nadine Strossen, ''Promises to Keep: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act in 2006''
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Alaska, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Arizona, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Florida, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Georgia, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Louisiana, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Mississippi, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in North Carolina, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in New York, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in South Carolina, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in South Dakota, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
Appendix to the Statement of Wade Henderson, ''Voting Rights in Virginia, 19822006,'' a report of RenewTheVRA.org
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Material for the hearing record submitted by the Honorable Steve Chabot on March 16, 2006:
United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, ''The Effect of the Voting Rights Act''
Dr. James Thomas Tucker and Dr. Rodolfo Espino,'' Minority Language Assistance Practices in Public Elections: Executive Summary'' March 7, 2006
Dr. James Thomas Tucker and Dr. Rodolfo Espino, ''Minority Language Assistance Practices in Public Elections'' March 7, 2006
Edward Blum, ''An Assessment of Voting Rights Progress in North Carolina''
Edward Blum, ''An Assessment of Voting Rights Progress in Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, and South Dakota''
Material for the hearing record submitted by the Honorable Melvin L. Watt on March 16, 2006:
Yishaiya Absoch, et al, ''An Assessment of Racially Polarized Voting For and Against Latino Candidates''
Angelo N. Ancheta, ''Language Accomodation and the Right to Vote''
David J. Becker, ''Saving Section 5: Reflections on Georgia v. Ashcroft, and Its Impact on Renewal of the Voting Rights Act
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Michael Jones-Correa & Israel Waismel-Manor, ''Verifying Implementation of Language Provisions in the Voting Rights Act''
Luis Ricardo Fraga & Maria Lizet Ocampo, ''The Deterrent Effect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: The Role of More Information Requests''
Christian R. Grose, ''Black-Majority Districts or Black Influence Districts? Evaluating the Effect of Descriptive Representation on the Substantive Representation of African-Americans in Black-Majority and Black Influence Districts in the Wake of Georgia v. Ashcroft''
Zoltan Hajnal & Jessica Trounstine, ''Transforming Votes into Victories: Turnout, Institutional Context, and Minority Representation in Local Politics''
J. Gerald Hebert, ''An Assessment of the Bailout Provisions of the Voting Rights Act''
David Lublin & Cheryl Lampkin, ''Racial Redistricting and the Election of African-American County Supervisors in Mississippi''
Allan M. Parnell, ''Assessing the Effectiveness of Section 5 Preclearance of Annexations in North Carolina''
Gary M. Segura & Nathan D. Woods, ''Majority-Minority Districts, Co-ethnic Candidates, and Mobilization Effects
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMaterial for the hearing record submitted by the Honorable Steve Chabot on March 16, 2006:
Jim Boulet, Jr., & Peter Weyrich, ''Without Our Consent: Abuses of Bilingual Voting Statues in the New Millennium''
Statement of Shiny Liu, Resident, Fresh Meadows, New York
Statement of Byung Soo Park, Resident, Flushing, New York
Statement of Henry Yee, Co-Chair, Chinatown Resident Association, Boston
National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, Appendix to Hearings: Table of Contents and Appendix Materials
National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, Appendix to Hearings: Table of Contents and Appendix Materials (continued)
VOTING RIGHTS ACT: EVIDENCE OF CONTINUED NEED
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2006
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Committee on the Judiciary,
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The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 4:32 p.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Steve Chabot (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. CHABOT. The Committee will come to order. I'm Steve Chabot, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. I want to welcome everyone here this afternoon. I also want to apologize for starting a half-hour after the scheduled time. This Committee prides itself in starting almost exactly on time, or very close thereto. Unfortunately, we had a series of votes on the floor of the House and had to make those votes, so we apologize for keeping everyone waiting a little bit longer.
I'd like to take a moment before we start today to recognize that yesterday was the 41st anniversary of ''Bloody Sunday.'' It was on March 7, 1965, that many of our citizens shed blood to ensure that the most sacred and fundamental right in this country, the right to vote, was extended to all citizens. Colleagues such as John Lewis, who I believe will be joining us here shortly, stood up to injustice and forced this country to acknowledge that not all of its citizens were afforded the full rights of citizenship.
The results of their efforts are reflected in the act that we are discussing today, the Voting Rights Act. If not for the courage and conviction of these individuals, we would not be holding this hearing today, so I want to commend them for their years of commitment to the civil rights movement in this country, and particularly John Lewis, although there are many others, as well, but he, I believe, will be joining us here shortly.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'd also like to thank everyone else for joining us here this afternoon. This is the Subcommittee on the Constitution, as I mentioned before, and this afternoon, the Subcommittee will be holding its tenth hearing examining the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the temporary provisions that are to expire. They're set to expire in 2007 unless we reauthorize by Congress, which I think most of us anticipate will occur.
Last fall, the Subcommittee examined each of the expiring provisions in great detail. This afternoon, we pick up where we left off by examining the evidence of continued discrimination against racial and language minority citizens since 1982 that have been compiled by a number of non-governmental organizations who will be testifying here this afternoon.
I'd like to take a brief moment to thank these organizations for the time and effort that they have put into completing these reports and in making sure that this Committee and Congress has before it a complete and accurate record of discrimination over the last 25 years, which was the last time that the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized to any considerable extent.
The hearing this afternoon is an important one as the Committee continues to review and develop its own record for reauthorizing the temporary provisions.
In 1966, the Supreme Court in South Carolina v. Katzenbach upheld the constitutionality of the extraordinary measures taken by Congress to end the Nation's sad history of discrimination in voting because of the record it had established. Recognizing that the temporary provisions, quote, ''may have been an uncommon exercise of Congressional power, the Court has recognized that exceptional conditions can justify legislative measures not otherwise appropriate.''
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In continuing to reauthorize the temporary provisions, Congress, on four separate occasions, examined the extent to which discrimination continued to exist by analyzing information, such as enforcement statistics, minority voter registration rates, minority voter turnout, and litigation pursued to protect minority voting rights. Federal agencies, such as the United States Commission on Civil Rights, were instrumental in investigating, analyzing, and reporting back to Congress on the state of minority voting during each consideration. Each time, Congress concluded, based upon the evidence presented, that the exceptional conditions which existed in 1966 continued to exist in 1970, 1975, 1982, and in 1992, when it was last reauthorized.
This afternoon, the Committee continues to examine whether the exceptional conditions warranting the extension of the temporary provisions continue to exist in 2006. As in preceding years, we will look for assistance. A number of non-government organizations, including those before us today, have thoroughly investigated, analyzed, and reported on the state of minority voting in those jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act since 1982. These reports play a crucial role in giving Congress a first-hand account of the continued efforts to discriminate against minority citizens in voting. The evidence contained in the reports will greatly assist this Committee and Congress in fulfilling its duties to determine whether the exceptional conditions still exist.
At this time, I would ask for unanimous consent that these reports be recognized as official reports to Congress so that the reports are given the appropriate weight in any future consideration of the Voting Rights Act. Without objection, so noted.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I want to thank again the witnesses for being here this afternoon and for their testimony. I would yield back the balance of my time and would recognize the gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler, for the purpose of making an opening statement.
Mr. NADLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and Chairman Sensenbrenner for continuing this Subcommittee's careful review of the Voting Rights Act, its record since the last reauthorization, and furthering the effort to ensure that any reauthorization and any modifications will be based on the facts and the documented need, that is, the documented need for any modifications. That careful fact finding will enable this Committee and this Congress to craft appropriate legislation. Any remedies in the reauthorizing act must be based on the actual documented need and be appropriately tailored to that need.
The Supreme Court has made clear how we must go about reviewing the act. I believe this Committee has made a good start in fulfilling its obligation in the preparation of legislation that will be upheld, and I hope correctly applied by the Justice Department and by the United States Supreme Court.
Our witnesses today are here to present important studies that are the product of extensive fact finding hearings and the experience of many talented individuals who have been deeply involved in protecting the right to vote, to cast a meaningful vote, and to have that vote counted. Your reports, that is the reports the witnesses are presenting to us today, will substantially aid in Congress' fact finding work and will inform our efforts to craft legislation appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the present day.
The right to vote is the foundation of the basis of all other rights. We have too much experience as a Nation with the terrible and destructive legacies of disenfranchisement. Whether for reasons of bigotry or simply to protect political power, no American should be robbed of the right to cast a meaningful and effective vote.
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Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming our witnesses and I look forward to their testimony.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Michigan, the distinguished gentleman who is the Ranking Member of the full Judiciary Committee, Mr. Conyers, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope that I won't take that much time.
You know, it occurs to me as I review this great amount of study and preparation that has gone into this, and I am looking now at ''Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act At Work, 1982-2005,'' may I suggest that one of our hearings shortly should be on how we deal with the voting in the wake of Katrina and the hurricanes, because without that, we are doing some great history making here, ladies and gentlemen, but we are overlooking an incredibly challenging problem that apparently doesn't compare to the situation in December when our country provided Iraqi immigrants in America the opportunity to vote in Iraq's elections. We provided satellite polling places across the United States where they could vote just the same as if they were in Baghdad. Is it asking too much that we try to extend the same courtesy to our own citizens that suffered devastating losses and were dispersed across the country following Hurricane Katrina? We cannot leave these hearings without examining what we are doing in the immediate present.
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What is happening in New Orleans is that special elections are scheduled to be held on April the 22nd, and apparently have been planned with no notice that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 applies to the covered State of Louisiana. And so according to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, any proposed changes to voting dates or precinct locations must be precleared by the Department of Justice, and this so far has not yet happened. In fact, 300 of the 442 precincts are unavailable for voting because of the hurricane damage and most of these are in African-American neighborhoods.
Yet the State has pushed for early elections on April the 22nd when suitable conditions apparently in no way can exist for free and fair elections. Voter confusion and disenfranchisement is a clear consequence of the April 22 New Orleans planned municipal elections. The sad fact is that the State of Louisiana is apparently about to conduct an illegal election.
When we passed legislation addressing the possibility, for example, that a terrorist attack on the United States Congress, as unthinkable as that is, could require special elections to reconstitute Congress, even those remarkable circumstances, it was held that the Voting Rights Act was inviolable. There is no circumstance for which the Voting Rights Act is too cumbersome to uphold and I hope that this Committee and our witnesses who have worked far beyond their preparation for this hearing will help us figure a way out of this very current dilemma, and I thank the Chairman for this time.
Mr. CHABOT. I thank the gentleman. I would just note that I would hope that the State and city would recognize their obligations under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and if not and if individuals are concerned that they have not done that, then it would be the Justice Department's responsibility, and I would hope and trust that the Justice Department, if there is something, a violation of the Voting Rights Act found, then they would use their enforcement and authority to take appropriate action, whether that would be enjoining the election or putting it off to another date or whatever would be the appropriate thing to do, but it would initially be up to the local State and city officials to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and if not, then it would be up to the Justice Department to act appropriately. But I thank the gentleman for raising the issue.
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Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. CHABOT. Yes, the gentleman from New York.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, since the Justice Department in some recent cases has not shown attendant solicitude for the Voting Rights Act and has overruled their own professional staff, might there be something this Committee could do? I mean, I've just read the letter of a former colleague of ours, now a State Senator in Louisiana, Mr. Cleo Fields, who makes a very, very strong prima facie case that this election is being conducted in clear violation of section 5 and probably section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and I suggest that this Committee might want to take a hard look at that and maybe prod the Justice Department, certainly before the date of this election, which is scheduled for April 22.
Mr. CHABOT. Okay. I would thank the gentleman for raising that. I would also
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. CHABOT. Yes, Mr. Conyers?
Mr. CONYERS. I think your point is well taken, but it is clear to me that they're already in violation, and it is also clear to me that the Department of Justice hasn't said a word about this. So I ammy faith in waiting for them to come to and decide something, it seems to me that, ironically, the Committee that is considering extending the Voter Rights Act in certain places may have the additional responsibility, as you have indicated, to examine what is actually going on here. I think a hearing of that sort, I would like to discuss with you further.
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Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. I would be happy to do that. I want to thank the gentleman for calling me a couple hours ago and letting me know that this was an issue and giving me a copy of Reverend Jackson's letter and this issue, so we want tothank you for letting us know about this. I would hope that the Justice Department is reviewing this as we speak. I don't know for a fact that they are. But I would be pleased to follow up with you and also inform the Chairman of the full Committee, Mr. Sensenbrenner, also of the situation. I would hope this is one where we could work together if there is action that needs to be taken. Thank you very much.
The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, in the past years, Congress has recognized the tenacious grip of discrimination on voting, and over the years, we've continued to reauthorize several crucial sections of the Voting Rights Act set to expire in 2007, including section 5, protecting voters by requiring that States with a documented history of discrimination in voting practices submit planned changes of their election laws and procedures to Federal officials or judges for prior approval. Section 203 provides important tools to ensure fundamental fairness in voting process for language minority groups whose proficiency in English has been limited. And sections 6 through 9 give the U.S. Attorney General the authority to send Federal observers to monitor elections.
Since the initial passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Congress has relied on an extensive record of discrimination in voting to justify the need for the remedies imposed by these expiring provisions.
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Now, the Supreme Court has cited the Congressional record of the Voting Rights Act as a model in recent cases where it actually struck down other civil rights laws after finding that Congress had not established a record of discrimination to support its remedial action. These decisions have made clear that reauthorization of expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act must be supported by a record showing discrimination in voting since its last reauthorization in order to survive a constitutional challenge.
So in October of last year, we began the task of building that record to justify the ongoing need for these provisions. It's my hope that through these hearings we've conducted here in the Subcommittee, as well as field hearings conducted by many of the groups represented here today, it is my hope that we have done just that, build a record to justify the need to reauthorize the expiring provisions.
Mr. Chairman, I think it's appropriate to recognize the diligent work of those organizations. The information they've gathered will be essential to our deliberations and the work that they did was not easy. Many of the hearings were held at points all over the country, hearing hundreds of witnesses, and they will be providingthey have provided our Committee with the benefits of all that good work, and that good work will be part, as I indicated, of our deliberations.
At a time when America has staked much of its international reputation on the need to spread democracy around the world, we must ensure its vitality here at home, and so, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for convening the hearing and look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. I yield back.
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Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me, if I can, deviate just a second from my prepared comments just to join in expressing my concern about the issue that Mr. Conyers has raised. We should recognize that the potential exists for the largest disenfranchisement of people since the passage of the Voting Rights Act. That potential is there if some steps are not taken to assure the voting rights of people in the Gulf area, not only Louisiana but throughout the Gulf.
I do want to assure Mr. Conyers that we met today about that as the Congressional Black Caucus and are planning to meet with former Representative Cleo Fields at our next Wednesday meeting to deal with that in a more aggressive way, so I just wanted to kind of set him somewhat at ease, although there's plenty of work to be done before that issue can be resolved.
On the Voting Rights Act for which we are here to have a hearing today, I want to start simply by thanking Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Nadler for the whole series of hearings. This is the tenth hearing that we've had on this and it is this Subcommittee that has really done the grunt work of building the record for the full Judiciary Committee as a context for extension of the Voting Rights Act and this provision. And I want to express my thanks to Chairman Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Conyers for ensuring that the time necessary for us to schedule and conduct these important hearings has been made available.
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It's also fitting, Mr. Chairman, that as you noted, that this hearing comes 1 day after the 41st anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day that our colleague, Mr. Lewiswho may show up here but I got an e-mail from him just a few minutes ago saying that he has been held up, we still hope he will get herehe will certainly remember that day because he was there on that bloody Sunday. On that Sunday in 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers headed out of Selma, Alabama, on U.S. Route 80 toward the State capital in Montgomery. They made it about six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge when they were met by State and local law enforcement officers who attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas.
Two days later, Martin Luther King, Jr., defiantly led a symbolic march back to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but it was two additional weeks before the civil rights leaders launched a full-scale march from Selma to Montgomery on Sunday, March 21. That march began with about 3,200 marchers. By the time they reached the capital 4 days later, they were 25,000 strong. Less than 5 months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the original Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Mr. Chairman, I believe this history is particularly relevant to our hearing today because today we have before us a bipartisan panel of civil rights leaders whose work has produced a body of evidence from the field, a body of evidence which, like Bloody Sunday, provides a factual predicate for the continued need for the protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act.
The work of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, co-Chaired by former Congressman Charles Mathias and former Attorney General Bill Lann Lee, who is here with us today, gives voice to the stories of over 100 witnesses from across the country who continue to confront obstacles to voting. The Leadership Council on Civil Rights, which has been on the forefront of fighting discrimination for decades, has done extensive research on the implementation and effect of the Voting Rights Act in several States covered by its provisions. And the ACLU, with its impressive voting rights docket, has assembled examples from its 200-plus cases of discriminatory techniques and tactics that have deliberately or inadvertently undermined the effectiveness of citizens from various racial and language minority groups to cast their votes, have that vote counted, and have that vote count.
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Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. Would the gentleman like some additional time?
Mr. WATT. Give me one additional minute.
Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman is granted an additional minute.
Mr. WATT. But the news isn't all bad. Days like March 7, 1965, are truly behind us, we hope, at least, that there has been a tremendous amount of progress as a direct result of the Voting Rights Act. Voter registration of racial and language minorities has increased in some of the covered jurisdictions. There have been inroads against racially-polarized voting.
We fear, however, that the sacrifices of John Lewis, who is the human face of all American citizens represented in the stories we will hear about today, will be for naught if we celebrate our successes too quickly or too completely by ending the protections of the Voting Rights Act prematurely and by not asking to restore and strengthen them.
Speaking about the right to vote in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson said to Congress, quote, ''Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult, but about this there can and should be no argument. Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.''
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would dare to say that were this 1965, President Bush would be making much the same statement, and he has, in fact, reaffirmed and made that statement with respect to Iraq and other countries around the world and we need to recognize it right here on our own shores in the United States of America.
This tenth hearing, Mr. Chairman, I think may be the most important one because we really can't do this work by ourselves in this Committee and these organizations have conducted hearings throughout our country to document that there is continuing discrimination, intentional, sometimes inadvertent, that is preventing the full exercise of the right to vote in our country, and against that predicate, we need to reauthorize and strengthen and renew the Voting Rights Act.
I yield back and thank the gentleman for the additional time.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired.
We have also been joined by three of our colleagues who are not actually Members of this Subcommittee, but two of the three of whom are Members of the full Judiciary Committee, Mr. Van Hollen of Maryland, Ms. Sánchez of California, and Mr. Scott of Georgia. The rules of the Committee are that Members can be seated up here, but not actually participate. However, because of the importance of this hearing, what we have been doing in the previous hearings was to give each of the Members 5 minutesI apologize for that. Mr. Van Hollen, you are a Member of this Subcommittee. I apologize. I stand corrected. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chairman, if I could defer first to Ms. Sánchez, who was here before me.
Mr. CHABOT. What we have been doing is giving 5 minutes to the non-Members of the Committee and allowing them to either use it for the purpose of making an opening statement or to ask questions at their discretion, whichever one they wanted to use it for, so I don't know that she wants to use it for an opening statement or not.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. I would.
Mr. CHABOT. She would. Okay. Then the gentlelady is recognized for 5 minutes, and again, I apologize to the gentleman from Maryland.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and to the gentleman from Maryland for yielding. I do have an opening statement. It is rather brief, so it won't take up the full 5 minutes.
But I want to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member now for convening this hearing on the evidence of continued need of the Voting Rights Act, and I also want to thank the witnesses and their respective organizations for the extensive reports that they have prepared on the importance of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act and the need for preserving the safeguards therein.
In a recent article, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner was quoted as having said during the 1982 VRA reauthorization hearings that, quote, ''the testimony amply demonstrated that the ingenuity of the human mind is limitless when it comes to devising ways to rig election systems to favor certain candidates or points of view,'' and I believe the Chairman's comments would be equally appropriate today.
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The need to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, especially the language assistance provisions in section 203 and the preclearance provisions in section 5, is as great today as it was when Chairman Sensenbrenner made his remarks back in 1982.
The testimony we heard during the VRA hearings last fall and the conclusions found by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the American Civil Liberties Union's reports provide undeniable evidence that the Voting Rights Act is still required to prevent voter suppression and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to cast their vote.
As a Member of Congress representing a Congressional district with a substantial Latino and Asian population, I have firsthand knowledge of the power of the Voting Rights Act. My district has been covered by section 203 since the year 2000 and I can tell you, the Lawyers' Committee and ACLU reports confirmed what I have been seeing in my precinct for years. The language assistance provisions are still needed to protect many citizens' voting rights. The Lawyers' Committee and ACLU reports also confirm that Latino voters continue to suffer from discriminatory voting obstacles. In fact, as recently as last June, the Department of Justice sued the City of Boston for discouraging Hispanics from voting. Additionally, there are confirmed cases nationwide of election officials in jurisdictions covered by section 203 simply ignoring their legal requirement to provide language assistance, and that's not only wrong, but it's against the law.
I strongly believe that the testimony and reports submitted in favor of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act are compelling. They prove beyond a doubt that the VRA not only needs to be reauthorized, but strengthened, and I again appreciate Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Nadler's courtesy in allowing me to join the Constitution Subcommittee today and I will yield back the remainder of my time.
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Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The gentleman from Maryland is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. VAN HOLLEN. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Chabot and Ranking Member Nadler, for conducting this series of hearings and thank you, all the witnesses for being here today and for the work that you and your organizations have done in compiling the stories and the evidence that I think clearly supports the need to continue and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and I look forward to hearing your testimony.
My friend and colleague, Mr. Watt, talked about Bloody Sunday and how it led to change the sort of conscience and view of the country and led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in August of that year after Bloody Sunday, and I have had the privilege of twice, actually, attendinggoing on a civil rights pilgrimage with our colleague, Congressman Lewis, and others here on the panel, and I think anyone who takes that trip both recognizes how far we've come as a Nation, but also as you listen to the people and stories, recognizes the need to remain vigilant and the need to make sure that we continue to protect the voting rights of every person in this country.
I think the stories that you're bringing to the Committee today are going to be powerful testimony to the fact that the need remains to make sure we protect the very important rights, the rights at the foundation of our democracy. So I thank you for the work that you've done and I look forward to your testimony.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentleman yields back. Mr. Scott, do you want to use your time now or as questioning?
Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to use 2 minutes now and save 3 minutes for questions, if I could.
Mr. CHABOT. Fair enough. The gentleman is recognized for 2 minutes.
Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. First, thank you, Mr. Chabot, and I want to thank Ranking Member Nadler and my good friend, the senior Member of this Committee, Mr. Conyers, for your courtesies in having me be a part of this.
I am so much interested in this because Georgia, my home State, is at the epicenter of this battle for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act on a number of fronts. First of all, since the last time we revisited this act in 1982, Georgia has led the Nation with 95 cases, 95 cases on the preclearance alone, and 142 cases of the voting rights cases altogether. That averages out over the months period to one every month, one case every month of violations of the Voting Rights Act for the State of Georgia.
The other reason is, of course, right now, Georgia is in battle with the voter I.D., which is the poster child for why we need the Voting Rights Act. As you recall, that act was ruled discriminatory. It came up here. It was gone through the process. The Justice Department attorneys ruled, rightly so, that it should never have been precleared. That should have been the end of the deal. But, oh no, political pressures came to bear. It said, too bad for the Voting Rights Act, violated it as if it didn't even exist, and they went on and cleared that anyway. And only by the grace of one judge, Judge Murphy in Georgia, were we saved.
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Another reason is Ashcroft v. Georgia. That law, again from Georgia, is the one law that has minimized and tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act, and unfortunately, the leadership in this Congress at this point to dismantle this act comes from my fellow Georgian, from Georgia, my fellow Congressman from Georgia, Mr. Westmoreland.
Georgia is vitally interested in this. We are at the epicenter of it. We want to make sure that this act is not only renewed, but it is strengthened, and I appreciate the gentleman for allowing me an opportunity to be a part of this Committee to help see that happen. Thank you, sir.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. The gentleman's time has expired.
Without objection, all Members will have 5 legislative days to submit additional materials for the hearing record, and I'd now like to introduce our very distinguished panel here this afternoon.
Our first witness will be the Honorable Bill Lann Lee, Chair of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act and the Former Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Lee's tenure in the Department of Justice followed 23 years as a civil rights attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Center for Law and the Public Interest, and the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and we welcome you here this afternoon, Mr. Lee.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our second witness will be Ms. Nadine Strossen. Ms. Strossen is a professor of law at New York Law School, and since 1991 has served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is the first woman to head this organization. The National Law Journal has twice named Professor Strossen one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, and in 1999, Ladies' Home Journal included her in America's 100 most important women. We welcome you here this afternoon, Ms. Strossen.
Our third witness will be Mr. Wade Henderson. Mr. Henderson is the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and counsel to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund. Prior to his role with the Leadership Conference, Mr. Henderson was the Washington Bureau Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP. He was also the Associate Director of the Washington National Office of the American Civil Liberties Union. We welcome you here this afternoon, Mr. Henderson.
In addition, Mr. Henderson served as the Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Professor of Public Interest Law at the David A. Clark School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia. He is the recipient of the 2003 Congressional Black Caucus Chairs Award and the District of Columbia's Bar's William J. Brennan Award for 2002, as well as many other awards, and again, we welcome you here.
Our fourth and final witness is the Honorable Joe Rogers. In 2003, Lieutenant Governor Rogers completed his term as the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, where he held the distinction of serving as America's youngest Lieutenant Governor and only the fourth African-American in U.S. history ever elected as the State's number two executive. Now a practicing attorney in Colorado, he presently serves as a Commission on the National Commissioner on the Voting Rights Act.
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In 2001, Lieutenant Governor Rogers received the prestigious Trumpet Award from Time-Warner's Turner Broadcasting System. The Trumpet Award is one of the Nation's highest honors bestowed in recognition of African-Americans who have made significant contributions and enhance the quality of life for all Americans. Joe Rogers has been profiled by the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Washington Times, and Business Week, Ebony, Jet, and Teacher magazines. Ebony called him a political trailblazer. Lieutenant Governor Rogers was present during our initial foray into the Voting Rights Act and it is fitting that he is back before us today closing our hearings on the Voting Rights Act. We welcome you back here, Lieutenant Governor Rogers.
For those who may not have testified before this Committee, let me explain our lighting system here. We have what is called the 5-minute rule, and everyone, including Members, are limited to 5 minutes. The green light will be on for 4 minutes. The yellow light comes on in the final minute. When you see the red light come on, that means that your time has expired and we'd appreciate it if you'd warp up as close to that as possible. We usually give a little flexibility, but not too much, so please try to keep within that as much as possible.
It's also the practice of this Committee to swear in all witnesses appearing before it, so if you would, we'd ask each of you to please stand and raise your right hand.
Do you swear that in the testimony that you're about to give, you will give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LEE. I do.
Ms. STROSSEN. I do.
Mr. HENDERSON. I do.
Mr. ROGERS. I do.
Mr. CHABOT. All witnesses have indicated in the affirmative and you can be seated.
We will now begin with our first witness, Mr. Lee, and you're recognized for 5 minutes.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE BILL LANN LEE, CHAIR, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT, AND FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. LEE. Good afternoon, Chairman Chabot and Members of the House Committee on the Constitution. I am here today in my capacity as Chairman of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act.
Earlier, Mr. Chairman, you indicated that my fellow Commissioner, Mr. Rogers, attended the first meeting of the Subcommittee. At that time, he pointed out that the Commission's then-forthcoming report would be prepared, and so here we are today after the report has been prepared. The report is entitled, ''Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act At Work, 1982-2005,'' and there is also a supplement to the report, ''Highlights of Hearings of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, 2005.'' The report and the supplement can be found on the Commission's website, www.votingrightsact.org. Pursuant to the written request of Chairman Sensenbrenner, the National Commission has provided the Judiciary Committee with its entire record of several thousand pages.
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The National Commission was created by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, as several of the Members have noted. The National Commission is composed of a politically and ethnically diverse group of men and women, including former elected and appointed public officials, scholars, lawyers, and leaders. Along with Commissioner Rogers and myself, the Commissioners include Honorary Chair Charles Mathias, John Buchanan, Chandler Davidson, Dolores Huerta, Elsie Meeks, and Charles Ogletree.
The National Commission's charge was to evaluate discrimination in voting since Congress reauthorized the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1982. The Chairman has described the temporary provisions and I'm not going to say too much about them other than the three principal ones have to do with Federal oversight of the election process changes, minority language assistance to citizens whose primary language is not English, and the Attorney General's ability to send observers and examiners to monitor elections. These provisions only apply to those areas of the country where Congress previously determined they were needed.
The National Commission obtained all the relevant qualitative and quantitative data it could on discrimination in voting, including data from the United States Department of Justice, Federal court cases and dockets, information from civil rights groups, voting rights lawyers, academics, and electoral experts who provided counsel and made their files available. Moreover, the National Commission, as has been pointed out, conducted ten field hearings throughout the country and heard from over 100 witnesses with experience in elections or voting rights issues, including, notably, local election administrators. The National Commission's report reflects the analysis of all that evidence.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although this effort reflected the input of the entire Commission, I would be remiss in not failing to acknowledge that Commissioner Chandler Davidson is perhaps the Nation's most preeminent social scientist in the field of voting rights and he worked full time on this report for more than a year.
The report, in sum, presents evidence that demonstrates, unfortunately, that the persistence, degree, geographic breadth, and methods of voting discrimination are substantial and ongoing. Instances of the kinds of voting discrimination that Congress intended to eliminating by enacting and reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act have held steady. The temporary provisions of the act, in fact, have prevented and remedied much discrimination. They continue to do so to this day.
I will share some of the numerical findings set forth in the report and the report's tables, maps, and charts. My colleague, Commissioner Rogers, has the better job of explaining some of the anecdotal evidence that gives some life to the statistics I am about to embark on and he will testify last.
Regarding section 5 enforcement since 1982, which is the last time the Congress has acted, the District Court of the District of Columbia and the Justice Department together have declined to preclear over 1,100 voting changes contained in more than 650 section 5 submissions since 1982. In addition, as a result of the correspondence between the Justice Department and jurisdictions after submission, jurisdictions have withdrawn 200 submissions. These withdrawals have the same functional effect as an objection blocking a suspect voting change.
In addition, the act allows either the Justice Department or private citizens to bring section 5 enforcement actions to force officials to submit changes they have refused to submit. Our research shows that there have been a substantial number since 1982, numbering 105, in eight of the nine totally covered States plus North Carolina.
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The Department of Justice has also sent observers to monitor elections in more than 600 jurisdictions since 1982. Two-thirds of all post-1982 observer coverages occurred in five States covered entirely by section 5Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. Between 300 and 600 observers were sent out each year between 1984 and the year 2000.
Regarding language minorities, we note that there remains an enormous gap in political participation. According to the Census, in the 2000 election, 45 percent of Hispanic voting age citizens and 43 percent of Asian voting age citizens participated, as compared to 62 percent of non-Hispanic voting age citizens, and the number for African-Americans is 58 percent.
Section 2 is a permanent feature of the act that permits the United States or individuals to file suits alleging that a voting practice has a discriminatory purpose or effect.
Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Lee, if I could interrupt here, are you about at a point where you can wrap up, because your full statement will be admitted for the record.
Mr. LEE. Well, if
Mr. CHABOT. And we can get into it with questions to follow up in addition, as well.
Mr. LEE. I can finish up in about a minute.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHABOT. Okay. That's fine.
Mr. LEE. Section 2 is important because it provides a check on the Justice Department statistics, and what we found was that in eight States fully covered by section 5 and North Carolina, there were fully 635 cases concerning election changes in 825 counties.
The last point I would like to make has to do with racially-polarized voting. That is a phenomenon in which most voters, White voters, vote for different candidates than minority voters. That is a pattern that continues to this day, and those of us who have studied the Voting Rights Act, we were surprised to see that the persistence of racially-polarized voting. I have the numbers on that. I can provide it to you later.
The bottom line is that, unhappily, 40 years after the Voting Rights Act was enacted, we still have the persistence of the voting rights discrimination that this Committeeof the kind that this Committee analyzed and has found to be problematic and to constitute the exceptional circumstances and conditions that the Chairman referred to earlier.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lee follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BILL LANN LEE
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Mr. CHABOT. Ms. Strossen, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
TESTIMONY OF NADINE STROSSEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, AND PROFESSOR OF LAW, NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL
Ms. STROSSEN. Thank you so much, Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member
Mr. CHABOT. Could you turn that mike on there? And you might want to pull that kind of close, too.
Ms. STROSSEN. I will pull myself closer, as well, and now my time is starting. Thank you, Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Nadler, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to appear before you today to present the key findings of the most recent report by the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, ''The Case for Extending and Amending the Voting Rights Act, Voting Rights Litigation, 1982-2006.'' I am also pleased to present policy recommendations from a second report prepared by our Washington legislative office, ''Promises to Keep: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act in 2006,'' and I understand, Chairman Chabot, that these will be incorporated in the record. I appreciate that.
My brief oral comments will focus on the ACLU's litigation report, the big one. Since 1982, when the Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized, the ACLU's Voting Rights Project has brought or participated in 293 legal cases in 31 States challenging discrimination and failure to comply with Federal and State election laws. These cases clearly demonstrate the need to extend the act's expiring provisions because they extensively document ongoing voting discrimination problems in the covered jurisdictions.
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In support of that conclusion, our litigation report prevents evidence substantiating five key findings. I am just going to list them now, and then, time permitting, add a few comments about each one.
First, section 5 has blocked implementation of discriminatory voting changes.
Two, there is a continuing pattern of blocked voting and racial polarization in the covered jurisdictions, as Mr. Lee alluded to.
Third, there is continuing hostility to minority political participation.
Four, there is a continued need for section 5, especially its deterrent effect.
Five, the courts routinely apply section 5 to protect minority voting rights.
So just a little bit of amplification. Section 5 has blocked implementation of discriminatory voting changes. Since 1982, the Department of Justice has filed more than 1,000 objections under section 5. These objections have protected millions of voters in thousands of elections. Our report documents numerous Department of Justice section 5 objections in those jurisdictions where the ACLU has been directly involved in voting rights litigation. Examples include objections to discriminatory State restrictions on registration and voting, discriminatory annexations in many locales, and discriminatory redistricting in many States.
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Second, there is a continuing pattern of blocked voting and racial polarization in the covered jurisdictions. While much progress has been made in minority registration and office holding, the persistence, the sad persistence of racial block voting shows that race remains a dynamic and corrosive factor, particularly in the covered jurisdictions. Our litigation report is replete with findings by courts and also by the Department of Justice of racial block voting in 12 States where the ACLU has filed voting rights cases.
Third, the continuing hostility to minority political participation. Our litigation report also documents that too many elected officials continue to manipulate the law in ways that disadvantage minority voters, just as the record showed in 1982 when Congress last reauthorized section 5. I'd like to simply list a few of the many types of discrimination of this type which are detailed in this extensive report: Discriminatory annexations and deannexations; pairing Black incumbents in redistricting plans; refusing to draw majority minority districts; refusing to appoint Blacks to public office; relocating polling places distant from the Black community; refusing to hold elections following a section 5 objection; failure to provide bilingual ballots and assistance in voting; packing Native American and African-American voters to dilute their influence; and discriminatory voter identification requirements, as Congressman Scott alluded to.
A fourth finding is that there is a continued need for section 5 especially in terms of its deterrent effects. The redistricting that follows each decennial census as well as other evidence clearly demonstrates the deterrent effect of section 5. As the report makes clear, in the absence of section 5, minority voters would become increasingly marginalized during the redistricting process and elected officials would be more inclined to adopt voting changes that disadvantage minority voters.
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And our last finding, backed up by much experience, is that the courts are routinely applying section 5 to protect minority voting rights to prevent retrogression and to protect equal rights.
So in conclusion, each time the Voting Rights Act has been renewed, Congress has assessed the extent of current ongoing voting violations in the covered jurisdictions, and each time, Congress has concluded that these provisions must be extended. On every such past occasion, Congress has determined that its earlier attempts to remedy the evil of racial discrimination in voting had failed. Unfortunately, as the ACLU litigation report documents, those serious problems persist to the present day.
Thank you very much.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Strossen follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF NADINE STROSSEN
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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Henderson, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
TESTIMONY OF WADE HENDERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS
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Mr. HENDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the Members of the Subcommittee. I'm Wade Henderson, the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and counselor to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund. The Leadership Conference is the Nation's premier civil and human rights coalition. It consists of more than 190 national organizations and has coordinated the national legislative campaigns on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.
Mr. Chairman, as you so eloquently noted along with Mr. Watt, yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday vaulted voting rights abuses into the political forefront and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act, including its temporary provisions, section 5, sections 6 through 9, and section 203, has been the pivotal force behind the Nation's progress toward protecting the right to vote. It has empowered large numbers of minority citizens to register and vote and to elect candidates of their choice to local, State, and Federal offices. The act has been successful in removing direct and indirect barriers to voting for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans.
As part of the Leadership Conference's role in assessing the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act and its continuing need, our sister organization, the LCCR Education Fund, commissioned an educational and research collaborative, renewtheVRA.org, to draft a series of reports that have been requested by Congress examining the impact of the Voting Rights Act over the past 25 years. Beginning today and over the next month, renewtheVRA.org will release reports on the following States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. These States were chosen as a representative sampling geographically and demographically of jurisdictions covered in whole or in part by the expiring temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act. I would ask that each of the reports previously submitted to the Committee, those that will be submitted, and my testimony in full be admitted as part of the record of these proceedings.
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Mr. CHABOT. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. HENDERSON. Today, I will highlight the trends and findings of many of these reports. Several consistent themes emerge in the State reports. Over the course of the last 25 years, the temporary provisions of the VRA have been employed often and have worked well to limit practices harmful to the full participation of racial and ethnic minority voters.
First, it is clear that the preclearance provision, the language minority protections, and the examiner and observer provisions of the Voting Rights Act have played significant roles in protecting the voting rights of minority citizens. These reports, however, also highlight a unifying theme. Discrimination still pervades the electoral process. The State reports chronicle why the expiring temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act remain relevant and necessary to stop both intentional discrimination and facially neutral proposals with potentially discriminatory effects.
The State reports are rich with data and compelling stories of how the Voting Rights Act has impacted minority voters and office holders. For example, Mississippi, the poorest State of the Union, has a population that is 36 percent Black, the highest of any of the 50 States. Despite bitter historical resistance to the civil rights movement, dramatic changes have occurred since 1965, thanks in large measure to the Voting Rights Act. Mississippi now has the highest number of Black elected officials in the country, and yet racially-polarized voting remains a pervasive problem.
The reports also highlight the recent history of discrimination in the 14 States, focusing on old and new methods of discrimination employed to abridge the Voting Rights Act and minority citizens. The reports examine current events that impact the right to vote and illuminate the nature of the political climate for minorities.
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The Louisiana report indicates that apart from the extraordinary questions of voter disenfranchisement facing Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Voting Rights Act has been instrumental in protecting the vote in that State. Since the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 1982, the Department of Justice has objected nearly 100 times to proposed changes that would have adversely impacted minority voters in Louisiana, particularly African-Americans. Sixty percent of the Department's total section 5 objections in Louisiana since the enactment of the VRA have come after the 1982 reauthorization.
Additionally, the language assistance provisions of the VRA have been particularly important in empowering language minority voters. In New York, for example, the report reveals that in recent elections, the New York Board of Elections failed to provide sufficient Chinese, Spanish, and Korean interpreters, ranging in a deficiency from 25 to 59 percent.
The Florida report, for example, documents particular Department of Justice actions against counties with high percentages of Latino voters, where one might have expected language assistance provisions to go into effect more openly.
The South Dakota report underscores how societal attitudes and a hostile climate led to practices that undermined the full participation of Native American voters. These tactics include voter intimidation, investigations of newly-registered voters, failure to provide polling places on reservations, discriminatory redistricting, and a failure to provide language assistance at the polls.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, despite progress made, barriers to full and equal minority voter participation remain. In the backdrop of many successes under the Voting Rights Act, a second generation of discrimination has emerged, more subtle and insidious than a half-century ago, but no less discriminatory. The Voting Rights Act remains a relevant, necessary tool to curb voting rights abuses and we believe, sir, that the reports certainly justify a Congressional reauthorization of the act. Thank you.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much, Mr. Henderson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Henderson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF WADE HENDERSON
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Mr. CHABOT. Lieutenant Governor Rogers, you are recognized for 5 minutes. Thank you.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE JOE ROGERS, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT, AND FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF COLORADO
Mr. ROGERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's good to be with you and good to be before the Committee. I am delighted in particular to be back before you to discuss the National Commission's report and accompanying supplement. The report and supplement capture some of the most compelling testimony and facts culled from the ten hearings that the National Commission conducted throughout the United States.
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Of note, our hearings and review of the record and data show dramatic gains having been made in terms of decreasing the instances of discrimination and intimidation of minority voters throughout the United States since the establishment of the Voting Rights Act. Plainly, we have come a long way on our way toward racial equality and full access to the ballot for all of our citizens.
However, with that said, the journey toward a color blind society in which discrimination against minority voters no longer exists is simply not yet complete. Whether the animus is hatred or powerI will state that once again, whether the animus is hatred or powerand whether the conduct is engaged by Democrats or Republicans, the end result, discrimination against minority voters, is the same. It is this result that is the aim and protection of the Voting Rights Act.
As my fellow Commissioner Bill Lann Lee pointed out in particular, I would like to state and present to you several examples of the facts that we discovered regarding voting discrimination and instances where the Voting Rights Act has either prevented or remedied discrimination in our Nation between 1982 and 2005.
I would like to begin with an example in particular from Mississippi, illustrating how section 5 of the act maintains gains resulting from section 2 litigation and an example in particular from California showing its impact in preventing vote dilution.
Second, I would like to address the effectiveness and the efficiency of section 5.
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And third, I would like to point out the significance of the minority language provisions.
Finally, I would like to note the persistence of practices of discrimination in jurisdictions throughout the Nation.
Up through 1987, Mississippi in particular had a dual-registration system whereby people had to register separately in both the city and the county in order to vote in all elections, Federal, State, and local. This practice was found to be racially discriminatory under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and Mississippi was forced to stop this practice. When Congress enacted the National Voter Registration Act, motor-voter, in 1993, Mississippi tried to revive its dual-registration system by passing legislation that restricted motor-voter registrants to voting only in Federal elections. Mississippi refused to submit its dual-registration system for section 5 preclearance until it was sued by the Department of Justice in a section 5 enforcement action and the United States Supreme Court ultimately unanimously ordered Mississippi to submit the changes for preclearance. When Mississippi ultimately complied with the court order and submitted its dual-registration system to the Department of Justice, the Department objected in 1998 and Mississippi was prevented from reinstituting the discriminatory registration system.
Moreover, the Commission received testimony about how section 5 has blocked electoral changes whose effect was to dilute minority voting strength. Specifically, for example, the Chular Union Elementary School District in Monterey County, California, tried to change its method of election from single-Member districts to at-large elections. The Department of Justice objected under section 5 because the measure was, quote, ''motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory animus'' against Latino voters and because it would have a retrogressive impact upon Latino voting strength.
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The Commission also found several examples of how the mere existence of section 5, in fact, had a deterrent effect upon stopping jurisdictions from enacting discriminatory changes.
With regard to the minority language provisions, the National Commission received testimony from several election administrators who testified about the need for minority language voters to have language assistance in order to vote. Conny McCormack in particular, the County Clerk and Recorder for Los Angeles County, testified that from January to August 2005, she received some 135,000 multilingual voter requests. Shirlee Smith, the Voting Rights Act Coordinator for Bernalillo County, New Mexico, stated that because of section 203, her position was created and elderly Indian voters were able to vote for the first time because they were able to receive assistance in the language that they speak.
There was also significant testimony about, frankly, the failures of providing language assistance at the polls in violation in particular of section 203.
Moreover, we heard about the impact of the Voting Rights Act's observer coverage provisions. Alabama Senator Bobby Singleton is from Hale County, Alabama, where the Department of Justice has sent observers on some 20 separate occasions. Senator Singleton stated that when the Department of Justice was not present at an election, Whites closed predominately Black polling places early. As a result, the Department of Justice intervention on multiple occasions in Hale County and Voting Rights Act enforcement measures, Blacks are now a majority of the elected officials within Hale County.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, and unfortunately, the Commission record contains examples of instances of disparate treatment, voter dilution schemes, and unfortunately, examples of conduct designed to intimidate or otherwise suppress minority voters throughout the country.
In sum, these facts reveal that although our country has made, yes, significant progress, we have a long way to go. Racially-polarized voting remains a fact of life in many areas of our country. In States like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Federal courts in this decade have found that racially-polarizing voting exists.
In 2000, I was one of 38 African-Americans elected Statewide in the United States out of the nearly 900 such officials in the country. Our election, and indeed, elections of people like myself, represent progress, but is far from full emancipation of opportunity. In 2006, it still remains the case that most minority Members of this body, Mr. Chairman, most minority Members of the United States House of Representatives and State legislatures are elected in particular from majority-minority districts.
These examples of the data that we received throughout the United States indicate that neither the act nor the problems it was designed to combat, unfortunately, cannot be simply dismissed as relics of the past. On the contrary, they indicate what appears to be both a present and future need for its continuing protections. Thank you.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much, Lieutenant Governor Rogers.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rogers follows:]
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOE ROGERS
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Mr. CHABOT. You may have seen us messing with our Blackberrys up here for a while, and I apologize if that was somewhat distracting, but we've been getting communications from the floor of the House indicating when votes might be upcoming and we're hearing that they may be relatively soon, so if, in fact, that occurs, they're going to go on for at least an hour. Therefore, what we've indicated that we've agreed to do is to go ahead with our questioning here. At the point that we have to leave for the floor, any other Members will have the opportunity to submit them in writing to the panel so that you don't have to wait for an hour to answer our questions. So that'll be the game plan at this point.
The Chair recognizes himself for 5 minutes at this point, and I'll begin with you, Mr. Lee, if I can. A large part of the report that you referred to is dedicated to analyzing the activity conducted by the Department of Justice under section 5. Would you talk about what types of discriminatory tactics continue to be employed by covered jurisdictions?
Mr. LEE. Well, what we saw, and I think Mr. Rogers has canvassed them, is a persistence of the kind of tactics you saw in the past that Congress relied on, that is redistricting, gerrymandering, racially sort of sensitive annexations, line drawings. We heard a lot of testimony about manipulation of starting times for voting booths. These are the kinds of activities that, when combined with racially-polarized voting, would constitute vote dilution. So it is very troubling because this is the same kind of problem that Congress sought to eliminate in 1965, and then when it saw that it had not been eliminated, reauthorized several times.
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Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. Ms. Strossen, if I could go to you next, how important is section 5 to protecting minority voters in registering and turning out and casting ballots for candidates of their choice in local jurisdictions, such as counties and school boards and smaller cities, and where would minority citizens be without section 5, especially in these smaller jurisdictions?
Ms. STROSSEN. Chairman Chabot, in a word, incredibly important with respect to every single factor that you mentioned, including registration, voting, the opportunity to choose a candidate of one's choice. We have multiple examples throughout our litigation report, and as you indicate from your question, the local elections, which may perhaps receive less national attention, in some very real sense are even more important in terms of affecting people's daily lives. The opportunity to have input into who is elected for school board may make, with all due respect, even more of a dramatic impact on somebody's life than the opportunity to choose a Member of Congress of one's choice. We have many, many examples that really could go below the radar screen were it not for the preclearance mechanism of section 5 and the ability of organizations such as the ACLU representing private clients to bring enforcement actions.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. Mr. Henderson, if I could go to you next, collectively, what do the reports say about the security of minority voting rights in jurisdictions covered by the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act and would minority voters continue to progress without the temporary provisions?
Mr. HENDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think the 14 reports that are being submitted and will be submitted over the next month make several important points consistent with your question. First, progress has been made in this country, in large measure because of the Voting Rights Act and affording covered jurisdictions and minority citizens within those jurisdictions the opportunity to elect candidates of their choices, locally and State elections and also nationally.
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And without those provisions, what we have found is that conditions of racially-polarized voting within those covered States, the inventiveness of election officials and State leaders, often in instances sometimes with malice, sometimes without, adopting provisions that have the effect of discriminating against voters is widespread and well documented. We have seen that certainly with respect to provisions covered by section 5. We have also seen that very much in the language assistance provisions of section 203.
And were those temporary provisions not reauthorized, I think it is reasonable to expect the kind of slippage of voter participation and electoral engagement on the part of minority citizens, particularly within those covered jurisdictions.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. And Lieutenant Governor Rogers, I will address my last question to you.
Mr. ROGERS. Yes.
Mr. CHABOT. When you were here last fall on the first panel, you had touched upon the presence of racially-polarized voting in the elections, and, of course, you've touched on that again today. What were the Commission's findings on the pervasiveness of racially-polarized voting and why is it significant and how does it impact the ability of minorities to elect candidates of their choice?
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, we were both hopeful and at the same time discouraged when you looked at the numbers around the country. With the ten hearings that we conducted throughout the United States, it was clear that there are patterns of racially-polarized voting. Essentially, it is a world in which White folks vote for White folks, Blacks vote for Blacks, Hispanics vote for Hispanics, Asians may vote for Asians. And frankly, when you have circumstances where that exists and you don't have the ability or the interest of people in crossing over to vote for each other across ethnic lines, that represents the world of racially-polarized voting and we found that world in nearly every region of the country.
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Mr. CHABOT. Okay. Thank you very much, and my time has expired.
The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. NADLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by thanking all the witnesses for their testimony in our continuing effort to establish a very adequate factual basis for the legislation that undoubtedly we are going to adopt this year, a basis that will satisfy the Court's requirements that have been laid down in the cases, that shouldn't be laid down, but that were laid down.
And let me also noteI neglected to do so beforeI welcome Ms. Strossen in particular, who is a law professor in my district as well as the distinguished President of the ACLU.
Ms. STROSSEN. Thank you very much.
Mr. NADLER. With that, given the fact that we are going to have votes starting in about 5 minutes, I am going to defer my questioning and yield to the nextwell, I defer the questioning. You can go on to the next
Mr. CHABOT. You are yielding back?
Mr. NADLER. Yes, I will yield back.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman yields back. The gentleman from
Mr. NADLER. No, no, no
Mr. CHABOT. Oh, yields to Mr. Scott?
Mr. NADLER. Yes.
Mr. CHABOT. Okay. Mr. Scott is recognized for the balance of his time.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Since we are developing a record on the need for section 5, I just wanted to get something on the record.
Mr. CHABOT. Just for the record, I gave you an entire 5 minutes here, Bobby, just so you know.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Section 5 and the inadequacy of section 2, if someoneif we forced someone toif a bill passed and you let it go into effect and somebody got elected, is section 2 an adequate remedy if someone is now enjoying the benefits of incumbency? Lieutenant Governor Rogers, you are an elected, former elected official and you have seen a lot of campaigns. Does that incumbent who achieved his seat by an illegal scheme, does he then enjoy an advantage in the next election as an incumbent?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROGERS. Whether the incumbent achieved it by an illegal scheme, as you characterize it, or was simply elected to the position, the reality is that incumbents enjoy an advantage as it relates to opposition candidates. I mean, that has been proven clearly across the board in terms of the record of incumbency and the ability to hold on to offices.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. And that, therefore, is the magic of section 5. You don't let the illegal scheme go into effect. It has to be precleared for those with a history of discrimination.
Mr. ROGERS. There is no doubt, section 2 and section 5 clearly differ, and section 5 gives you the ability to, in effect, intervene, to stop the action from occurring or the discriminatory conduct from occurring in the first place, whereas section 2 allows it toessentially, you're intervening to try to stop what is already in place after it's already been engaged.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Now, there are other disadvantages of section 2. Under section 2, who bears the major cost of going forward?
Mr. ROGERS. Essentially, it's the plaintiff, whoever is bringing the action. So if you were challenging, if I made the decision as a private party to challenge something in my State of Colorado under a section 2 claim, then I'd bear that burden in terms of that cost.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. You mean the victim?
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Mr. ROGERS. Yes.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. And who has the burden of proof in that case? Is it the victim again?
Mr. ROGERS. Yes.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. And we will be considering a Bossier Parish fix. What is wrong withMr. Lee, you were Assistant Attorney General. What's wrong with preclearing a plan that is a clear violation of section 2?
Mr. LEE. Well, you don't haveyou're not fulfilling the prophylactic function of section 5. The law once was that section 5 and section 2 were compatible and now they're sort of somewhat out of sync. And so bringing the law back into sync would make section 5 a more effective prophylactic device and deal with the kinds of issues that you dealt with with Mr. Rogers, that is, section 2 is, after all, an after-the-fact remedy and section 5 is a forward-looking remedy.
Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back.
Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman yields back.
The gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King, is recognized for 5 minutes.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to compliment the witnesses today. I think it is an exceptionally high-qualified, well-informed, well-prepared delivery on all your parts. As I read through this, I have just some levels of curiosity.
I think you've done a very good job of answering the issue that popped to me out of all of your testimony about racially-polarized voting and I believe it was Lieutenant Governor Rogers, perhaps, or maybe Mr. Henderson that addressed whether it is Black or whether it is White or what minority it may be, that that happens. Just my observation of human nature, having watched my own family polarize themselves by a unit of family, even cousins separate from each other because they always gravitate toward a like kind at the family reunion, there's a certain human nature to do just that, to gravitate toward a like kind.
But I wanted to pose a question. Are there examples out there that you have studied, that you've come across in your analysis that show where there is a minority majority district that has elected perhaps a non-minority to represent them, or vice-versa? Are there exceptions to these rules that you have all tended to testify to today, and if there are, can we learn from them?
Mr. LEE. There are, of coursego ahead.
Mr. ROGERS. Please.
Mr. LEE. I will yield to the Lieutenant Governor.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROGERS. Thank you, Bill. I'd note, for example, if you look at California, if you looked at Oakland, for example, California, you have Jerry Brown who was elected as Mayor of Oakland, for example. It's a majority Black community, but he's elected to serve as mayor there. And there are examples of that in various portions of the country, where you have minorities essentially making a decision to elect somebody White to represent their interest and concern, and obviously the same is true, you do have circumstances where Whites will, in fact, vote for and support and otherwise endorse African-Americans or Latino candidates.
For example, if you look at the United States Senate, you have in Colorado Ken Salazar, who serves as a Senator from Colorado, United States Senate. Obviously, Mr. Martinez out of Florida. So you have examples throughout the United States where you have had clear measures of success, and to be frank with you, Congressman, I wouldn't be standing before you right now were it not for the hearts and minds of folks in our State willing to cross the lines of culture to say that, Joe, I think you can fight for my interests and my concerns even though you don't happen to look just like me, and that represents great progress in the Nation.
I think the great concern that we have in terms of this whole issue of racially-polarized voting is the world in which you limit that opportunity, in which I simply won't vote for you, Mr. King, because you are White. I think we would all concede that even though I can exercise a preference that I have, if I engage in that conduct, then that is something that's not quite what we want to have happen in our world.
Ms. STROSSEN. Congressman, could I make a point?
Mr. KING. Go ahead, Ms. Strossen.
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Ms. STROSSEN. Thank you so much. I would be very curious as to whether those exceptions would fall within the covered jurisdictions. Our research indicates that the problem of racially-polarized voting is most prevalent in what is most relevant to this Committee's concern, and that is the covered jurisdictions.
I would also like to call your attention to my statement in our report which emphasizes that we're not just giving anecdotal findings here. We are talking about repeated conclusions by courts of law in recent litigation, including courts or judges that cross the ideological spectrum just as a matter of statistical analysis.
Mr. KING. Ms. Strossen, I appreciate your bringing that up and I look back to your testimony where you referenced packing minority voters to dilute their influence. I would submit that there's another factor in this equation that could well be the polarization of political ideology rather than, I'll say skin color, for example. There might well be some substance. Have you seen any of that evidence?
Ms. STROSSEN. That was not what we were looking for. We were looking for what was relevant to the Voting Rights Act and namely packing of minority districts
Mr. KING. Thank you
Ms. STROSSEN [continuing]. There's one very dramatic example where a court recently made a finding with respect to South Dakota, and there were enoughI don't have the exact numbers in front of me, you can find it in the table of contents of our report, but there were more than enough Native Americans to have two majority-minority districts and instead they were concentrated into only one and that was found to be a legal violation.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, and in a short time, Mr. Lee?
Mr. LEE. Mr. King, we tried to address that. Ours was a bipartisan panel, and so we delved into the question of whether this was party-specific and we found that there were documented instances of Democratic primary elections in which, frankly, the race card was played, and I think the factthe danger in racially-polarized voting is it provides a ready mechanism for the race card to be played in any particular election.
Mr. KING. Thank you, and Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman yields back his time.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized, and we may be able to get through this.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll try to be quick. I just want to do some clean-up things to make sure that, since this may be the last hearing before a bill is dropped, that we've done all our due diligence.
I want to inquire of the Chair to be sure there his unanimous consent request was broad enough to cover
Mr. CHABOT. I'm sorry.
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Mr. WATT. I wanted to make sure that the Chair's unanimous consent request was broad enough to cover and get all of these reports into the record.
Mr. CHABOT. It was and we'll leave the record open for 5 days, as well.
Mr. WATT. That was my second question. Okay.
Now, I haven't done this in a long time because I haven't practiced law in 13 years, but I don't know Lieutenant Governor Rogers' background, but I know the background of the three people on this end and I think their record is such that they would be recognized as experts if they were in a court of law on some of these issues, and I think Mr. Rogers is going to be recognized as an expert as a result of having participated in the Commission.
So I want to get technical legal here and ask each of you, Mr. Lee, Ms. Strossen, Mr. Henderson, whether you have an opinion, satisfactory to yourself, which you are able to express to a reasonable certainty as to whether the reports that you all have submitted for the record today are reliable.
Mr. LEE. I canyes, absolutely.
Mr. WATT. And your opinion is?
Mr. LEE. My opinion is our report is reliable. I looked at the 1981 report that was prepared by the Civil Rights Commission and compared it to our report and our report is actually broader. Our report covers a broader geographic area. Our report covers not only reported decisions, but unreported decisions. Our report covers not only objections, but withdrawals and Attorney General coverage, which was not covered by the 1981 report. So our report is actually broader.
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Mr. WATT. Ms. Strossen, the same
Ms. STROSSEN. I have an opinion and my opinion is that both of the ACLU reports are reliable.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Henderson?
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Watt, we believe that the extensive research that went into the preparation of these reports, review of DOJ objections, district court declaratory judgments, other elements that would allow us to form an opinion have allowed me to believe that these are reliable reports.
Mr. WATT. And Lieutenant Governor Rogers?
Mr. ROGERS. I would simply concur with the Chair that, yes, in fact, we believe these reports are accurate and, in fact, reliable.
Mr. WATT. Okay. Final question. As experts, do you have an opinion satisfactory to yourself that you are able to express to a reasonable certainty as to whether it is necessary to extend and renew the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the expiring provisions? Mr. Lee?
Mr. LEE. Yes. Our Commission did not come to such a conclusion, but I personally have such an opinion.
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Mr. WATT. And that opinion is?
Mr. LEE. And my opinion is that the evidence is overwhelming that it is appropriate to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act's temporary provisions.
Mr. WATT. Ms. Strossen?
Ms. STROSSEN. I have an opinion and the opinion is that it is necessary to reauthorize, renew, and, I would add, revitalize by fixing the problems that were caused by the Supreme Court's decisions in Bossier and Ashcroft that have been alluded to. Those are inconsistent with what we believe to be Congress's original intent.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Henderson?
Mr. HENDERSON. Based on the information I have reviewed, Mr. Watt, I certainly concur with the two previous statements. I believe that reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act is necessary. I also strongly believe that restoring and revitalizing the act is also necessary regarding at least
Mr. WATT. Necessary or unnecessary?
Mr. HENDERSON. Is necessary
Mr. WATT. I wanted to make sure.
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Mr. HENDERSON [continuing]. Absolutely necessary and that that conclusion is based on a careful review of the evidence gathered from the reports we've prepared.
Mr. WATT. Lieutenant Governor Rogers?
Mr. ROGERS. Congressman, I am hesitant to answer your question because our role has been solely as a fact-finding role.
Mr. WATT. Okay.
Mr. ROGERS. I would say that the facts clearly demonstrate that there are problems that presently exist and that the act in and of itself has been a remedy to solve these problems. It appears that it would be so both for the present and future. But I have one word of caution, if I may
Mr. WATT. Absolutely.
Mr. ROGERS. The demographics of the country are changing. Presently in the United States, seven out of every ten people in the country are White. One out of every ten people in the country is roughly Black, and roughly one out of every ten people in the country are Hispanic. In just 24 years, one-third of the Nation will be minority. In just 44 years from today, nearly one-half of America will be minority. And so the demographics of the country are changing in such a way that you can look forward in the context of this act to what it will mean in its broader sense as the country becomes much more concentrated in terms of minority
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Mr. WATT. You seem to be making the case that about 50 years from now, we may need a Voting Rights Act for the other minority [Laughter.]
To protect their voting rights.
Mr. CHABOT. That is why we have been so gracious in holding these hearings. [Laughter.]
Mr. WATT. So when we get there, let the record show, if I'm still around, I'm going to be equally supportive of that notion. [Laughter.]
With that, Mr. Chairman, I'm happy to yield back.
Mr. CHABOT. The Chair notes Mr. Watt's comment.
The gentleman from Maryland is recognized for 5 minutes, or if he can make it shorter, that would be great because we have a vote on the floor.
Mr. VAN HOLLEN. I won't take up much time because I think a lot has been covered, especially in the last round of questioning from my colleague, Mr. Watt.
I would just really point out that the testimony that you've given and all the individual stories that you searched for and found to support a continuation and a reinforcement of the Voting Rights Act, I think those individual stories are reflected in the aggregate by the statistics that Mr. Lee pointed out in his testimony, and just to repeat that for emphasis, where the Justice Department refused to preclear over 1,100 voting changes contained in more than 650 section 5 submissions since 1982, and I think that aggregate figure clearly supports the individual stories and the specific cases that you have looked at and brought to the Committee.
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So I thank you for your work, and Mr. Chairman, I thank you for having this set of hearings.
Mr. CHABOT. I thank the gentleman for yielding back.
There are a series of votes on the floor now so we're all, unfortunately, going to have to run. I want to thank this panel for their very helpful testimony this afternoon. I thought you did an excellent job in bringing a lot of things together here in concluding the ten hearings that we've had on the Voting Rights Act. So thank you very much.
If there is no further business to come before the Committee, we're adjourned. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 6 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
[Note: The items inserted in the Appendix of Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, and Volume IV were all images not available in this format. See PDF versions of these files for complete hearing record.]