Attorney General Eric Holder joined NAACP leaders on the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia on Monday, with the Confederate flag fluttering overhead, to promise he will aggressively protect federal voting rights for minorities. NAACP National President Ben Jealous said he had chosen to be at the Columbia ceremonies honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., declaring South Carolina is “ground zero” in the battle for African-American voting rights.
As the NAACP speakers denounced the banner of stars and bars that the state continues to display, Holder focused on defending provisions of the Voting Rights Act that he claims are under assault by South Carolina.
The Justice Department has refused to grant the needed approval of a law passed by the legislature requiring most voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls. “After a thorough and fair review, we concluded that the state had failed to meet its burden of proving that the voting change would not have a racially discriminatory effect,” Holder said.