THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been a topic of
substantial discussion in recent days. I want to make absolutely clear my full support for the Act.
The Voting Rights Act is central to our Nation's efforts to eradicate racial discrimination and secure equal opportunity for all Americans. As I said last month upon signing the "motor voter" bill, the Voting Rights Act is part of a great tradition of laws that have widened the circle of liberty to encompass more and more of our citizens. This Administration remains unwavering in its commitment to effective enforcement of the Act and the Nation's other civil rights laws.
The Voting Rights Act was adopted to give reality to the 15th amendment's guarantee of the right to vote -- the most basic right of a democracy. When first adopted in 1965, the Act responded to long-entrenched barriers that systematically denied voting rights to African-Americans. As more subtle forms of disenfranchisement came to be employed, the Congress, with bipartisan agreement, strengthened and extended the Voting Rights Act in 1982. The Voting Rights Act offers two major protections: it imposes a nationwide prohibition of any electoral process that results in discrimination, and requires that certain specially covered jurisdictions obtain administrative or judicial preclearance before implementing voting changes.
I fully and enthusiastically support Attorney General Janet Reno, and the attorneys of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in their efforts to enforce vigorously the Voting Rights Act. Where the Voting Rights Act is violated, this Administration will continue, as it has in pending Supreme Court litigation in which the Department of Justice has filed briefs, to seek effective relief by applying the full range of remedies available under law, including remedies that have previously been employed by the Department of Justice or approved by the courts.
I also look forward to working with Attorney General Reno and Members of Congress to enact legislation, as needed, to clarify and reinforce the protections of the Voting Rights Act.
In 1965, President Johnson hailed the Voting Rights Act as "a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield." Effective enforcement of the Voting Rights Act will allow us to continue that triumph. Inclusion of all Americans in the political process is necessary if we are to work together as communities, States, and a Nation to address the difficult challenges that confront us all.
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