Congressman Cohen Chairs Voting Rights Act Hearing
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, today presided at a hearing on the history and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
“The right to vote is the most fundamental right of citizenship in our democracy. Yet for most of our history African Americans were denied this most basic right, especially in the Deep South.
“It took an attempted march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in the Spring of 1965, led by future Congressman John Lewis, in which he and fellow marchers were brutally beaten by Alabama State Troopers, and a successful march two weeks later, to call the nation’s attention to the need for a Voting Rights Act. Mr. Lewis was there at the signing by President Johnson. It is imperative that the Voting Rights protections be restored and that these changes are made while Congressman Lewis is still serving in Congress.”
The hearing took testimony from Catherine E. Lhamon, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Peyton McCrary, a former historian in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; and L. Paige Whittaker, a legislative attorney, American Law Division, of the Congressional Research Service.
The Subcommittee discussed a recent report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States,” which documented continuing threats to minority voting rights.