G.K. Butterfield

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National: Lawmakers, Obama, civil rights leaders to honor Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ this weekend | McClatchy

Nearly one-fifth of Congress will be in Selma, Ala., this weekend with President Barack Obama and his family to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march – a watershed moment that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights groups say the commemoration of this moment in the civil rights movement should spark work in Congress to update the law after the Supreme Court weakened it in 2013. Some congressional supporters say the lawmakers’ pilgrimage could help build support. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, will be one of 98 members of both parties from the House of Representatives and the Senate going to Selma. “It shows me there’s interest by Republicans to guarantee voting rights for African-Americans,” Butterfield said.

Full Article: WASHINGTON: Lawmakers, Obama, civil rights leaders to honor Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ this weekend | Congress | McClatchy DC.

National: Lawmakers Push New Longshot Bid to Rewrite Voting Rights Act | Roll Call

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner fell short in his 2014 efforts to convince GOP leadership to take up his Voting Rights Amendment Act, but the Wisconsin Republican is ready to take another stab at passing a rewrite of the historic law. But there’s little indication this year will be any different. For Sensenbrenner and his fellow co-sponsors of the legislation introduced Wednesday, many of the same obstacles remain — along with a few new ones. On the surface, it would seem the time has never been better — nor the political pressures greater — for the Republican-controlled House to take action. The VRA’s 50th anniversary this summer has the landmark civil rights legislation back in the spotlight almost two years after the Supreme Court, challenging lawmakers to update the law for the 21st century, struck down the enforcement section of the act. Sensenbrenner chose to drop his bill on the same day the House considered legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to the “foot soldiers” of 1965’s bloody civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

Full Article: Lawmakers Push New Longshot Bid to Rewrite Voting Rights Act.

North Carolina: Civil rights group wants McCrory to speed up special election schedule for 12th District | Associated Press

A civil rights organization pressed North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday not to wait until November to let voters elect a successor to former U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, saying that will deny representation to 12th Congressional District residents for too long. Holding a Nov. 4 election to fill Watt’s unexpired term means more than 700,000 citizens will be without someone in Congress to speak for them on critical legislation like the budget, immigration and possibly the Voting Rights Act for most of 2014, said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Citizens of North Carolina will be forced to go more than 300 days – almost one year – without their constitutionally guaranteed right to representation,” Barber told reporters. “This is taxation without representation.”

Full Article: NC civil rights group wants McCrory to speed up special election schedule for 12th District - Daily Journal.

National: Fix to Voting Rights Act stalled in Congress | Dallas Morning News

When the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in June, Democrats and civil rights activists vowed to breathe new life into the landmark law. Six months later, they haven’t gotten very far. Efforts in Congress to restore preclearance, the process by which the Justice Department reviews state election law changes for their effect on minorities, have stalled. And though a lawsuit aims to restore review of Texas based on allegations of recent discrimination, it’s months away from a hearing. A Congressional Black Caucus task force crafted a set of recommendations that would reinstate the formula for preclearance and sent it to Democratic leaders in August, but no legislation has come of it. If the recommendation became law, Texas could be back under preclearance, needing federal approval on every change, including tweaking districts, moving polling locations and changing voter ID laws. The recommendations would require federal oversight for any district where a law or change to voting procedure has been found by the court to be discriminatory since 2000. In August, a federal court found Texas’ voter ID law to be unconstitutional, and an appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected after its June ruling. But it could be awhile before Congress considers the matter. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat who helped lead the task force, said that the plan would have majority support in the House, but not from most Republicans who control the chamber — and it’s rare for the House to vote on a bill that most Republicans oppose.

Full Article: Fix to Voting Rights Act stalled in Congress | Dallas Morning News.

National: Sensenbrenner Sees GOP Support to Rewrite Voting Law | CQ.com

Although many congressional Republicans so far have been noncommittal about rewriting an invalidated section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said Wednesday that “a lot” of them want to do so. Sensenbrenner is the most prominent among a small number of GOP lawmakers who have urged a congressional rewrite of the statute after the Supreme Court partially struck it down in June. But that doesn’t mean other Republicans are not willing to join him in his effort, he told CQ Roll Call in an interview. “There are a lot of Republicans who are [on board], but they don’t want to be publicly named,” said Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a former Judiciary Committee chairman and architect of the 2006 compromise to reauthorize the voting law. “There’s a lot of pressure, and I’m happy to take that.” Sensenbrenner said he has “no idea” when the first legislative language of a rewrite might appear, but said “we’re going to start talking about drafts after the recess.” He and other negotiators — including two Democratic working groups in the House — will need to address two basic questions, he said.

Full Article: CQ.com - Sensenbrenner Sees GOP Support to Rewrite Voting Law.

National: Congressional Black Caucus seeks improvements to voting law | The Hill

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are seeking to strengthen the Voting Rights Act by making it easier for judges to expand voter protections across the country in response to individual discrimination lawsuits. The effort goes beyond crafting a broad definition of which voters should get extra protection based on regional records of racial discrimination. The move is an indication that some Democrats are hoping to use last month’s Supreme Court decision scrapping the law’s Section 4 coverage formula as an opportunity to bolster other provisions of the landmark civil rights legislation that were left intact by the ruling. Specifically, the lawmakers are taking a close look at revising Section 3, which empowers the court to apply Section 5’s federal “preclearance” requirements to jurisdictions with a history of discriminating against minority voters.

Full Article: CBC seeks improvements to voting law - The Hill - covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com.

National: Voting rights gains of ‘60s in jeopardy, Attorney General Eric Holder says | The Sacramento Bee

Attorney General Eric Holder told African-American clergy leaders Wednesday that a wave of new state laws on voting and legal challenges to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may jeopardize rights they helped fight for in the civil rights era. “Despite our nation’s long tradition of extending voting rights . . . a growing number of our fellow citizens are worried about the same disparities, divisions and problems that – nearly five decades ago – so many fought to address,” Holder told a meeting of the Conference of National Black Churches convened by the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the laws. “In my travels across the country, I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens, who – often for the first time in their lives – now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals. And some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang in the balance.” Holder spoke in response to an array of new voting measures enacted by several mostly Republican state governments that proponents say are needed to protect against voter fraud and to prevent illegal immigrants from voting. However, the mostly Democratic black caucus – along with several civil rights, voting rights and civil liberties groups – contends that the laws are really efforts to suppress the votes of minorities and others.

Full Article: Voting rights gains of ‘60s in jeopardy, Attorney General Eric Holder says - McClatchy Election News - The Sacramento Bee.

National: Voting rights gains of ‘60s in jeopardy, Attorney General Eric Holder says | The Sacramento Bee

Attorney General Eric Holder told African-American clergy leaders Wednesday that a wave of new state laws on voting and legal challenges to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may jeopardize rights they helped fight for in the civil rights era. “Despite our nation’s long tradition of extending voting rights . . . a growing number of our fellow citizens are worried about the same disparities, divisions and problems that – nearly five decades ago – so many fought to address,” Holder told a meeting of the Conference of National Black Churches convened by the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the laws. “In my travels across the country, I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens, who – often for the first time in their lives – now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals. And some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang in the balance.” Holder spoke in response to an array of new voting measures enacted by several mostly Republican state governments that proponents say are needed to protect against voter fraud and to prevent illegal immigrants from voting. However, the mostly Democratic black caucus – along with several civil rights, voting rights and civil liberties groups – contends that the laws are really efforts to suppress the votes of minorities and others.

Full Article: Voting rights gains of ‘60s in jeopardy, Attorney General Eric Holder says - McClatchy Election News - The Sacramento Bee.

National: House Dems say state voter-ID laws a GOP plan to suppress minority votes | The Hill

Several House Democrats argued on the floor Tuesday morning that the rise of voter-identification laws across many states is a coordinated attempt by Republicans to suppress minority and elderly votes.

“These new policies are a clear attempt to prevent certain pre-determined segments of the population from exercising their right to vote,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “To be frank, Mr. Speaker, these efforts have an all-too familiar stench of the Jim Crow era.”

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said the voter-ID laws are a Republican response to President Obama’s election.

Full Article: House Dems say state voter-ID laws a GOP plan to suppress minority votes - The Hills Floor Action.