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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 27, 1994

Statement by the President

Over the past thirty years, the protection of voting rights, and the resulting increase in the number of minority representatives in Congress, has been a testament to our enduring democracy. Now, it is increasingly clear that a direct attack is being mounted on electoral districts that contain African-American or Hispanic population majorities. In the face of this attack, the position of this administration is clear: We are committed to the gains made by minority voters through enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

When the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 with support from Democrats and Republicans alike, it was properly viewed as central to our Nation's efforts to eradicate racial discrimination. It seeks not only to increase the number of minority representatives, as important as that is. More fundamentally, it ensures that minority voters have an opportunity to cast meaningful votes and to elect candidates of their choice, particularly in those areas where politics are racially or ethnically polarized.

At my instruction, Attorney General Janet Reno and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick are vigorously defending the Congressional districts that are currently being challenged. Under their leadership the United States has either intervened as a party or become involved as a friend of the court in every one of these challenges. Ironically, these districts are the most integrated Congressional districts in the nation. Under the leadership of Deval Patrick, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is working hard to ensure that the Constitution has meaning for minority voters by making the case that these districts stay intact. I agree wholeheartedly that he should have all the resources necessary for that work.

In the short-term, the fate of minority voting rights is in the courts. In the long-term, if necessary, I will work with Attorney General Reno and Members of Congress to enact legislation to clarify and reinforce the protections of the Voting Rights Act. Inclusion of all Americans in the political process is not a luxury; it is central to our future as the world's most vibrant democracy.