Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking a strong stand against restricting the rights of U.S. citizens to vote. In a speech to the American Bar Association (ABA) last month, she urged the members of the Association to fight legislation restricting voting access. The lawyers were urged to represent voters who face discrimination following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a key section of the Voting Rights Act. This call to action was made at the ABA’s annual house of delegates meeting, during which Ms. Clinton received the 2013 ABA medal for her service to jurisprudence. She pointed out that in the months following the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which determined which states and counties had to seek federal review before changing their voting procedures, there has been an “unseemly rush” to enact laws that will make it harder for millions of Americans to vote.
Ms. Clinton told the group of lawyers that this year alone, 80 bills that would restrict voting rights have been introduced in 30 states. Although not all of them are based on race, many will disproportionately affect black, Latino and young voters. Lawyers were urged to fight back. Ms. Clinton had this to say to the ABA delegates:
You know the law. You speak the language. You can harness its authority. No country has a richer tradition of lawyer-citizens. Tell [legislators] that our government cannot fully represent the people unless it has been fairly elected by them.
I agree with Ms. Clinton that lawyers around the country can scrutinize those proposed bills, look at what’s happening in their communities and work with their local bar associations to defend voter rights. The ABA was also commended for filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, which urged the justices to fully uphold the Voting Rights Act. We have a duty to protect folks in this country who are being discriminated against because of their race.
In her tenure as Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton said she “saw firsthand that how we protect our freedoms here at home gives us standing … to defend human rights and democracy abroad.” As many nations are holding democratic elections for the first time and citizens in those nations are risking their lives to visit the polls, she pointed out that they look to the U.S. as a model. Meanwhile, in the United States, one-fourth to one-third of Americans aren’t registered to vote — a situation that would only be made worse by imposing further obstacles, Ms. Clinton was critical of such moves as the plan to purge Florida’s voter rolls and regulations that would allow a gun license, but not a college-issued student ID card as a valid form of voter identification. She added:
Unless the hole opened up by the Supreme Court ruling is fixed … citizens will be disenfranchised and victimized by the law. It’s up to citizens and those lawyers who are willing to stand with them. Persuading a gridlocked Congress will not be easy, but it doesn’t mean we should walk away.
Lots of folks don’t realize, or may have forgotten, that Hillary Clinton was once a very good and successful lawyer. In 1979, she became the first female associate at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark. In the 1980s, she was named chair of the ABA’s commission on women, which led to greater equality for women in the legal profession. ABA President Laurel Bellows, before awarding Ms. Clinton the ABA Medal, said:
She transformed the legal profession for women. That committee’s work led to the law-firm environment we expect today, including equal pay, parental leave and the greater possibility for advancement among women attorneys.
In addition to speaking out on this most significant issue before the ABA, Ms. Clinton has also been critical of the Supreme Court’s ruling during other recent public appearances. She is absolutely correct when she says the high court’s ruling will have an adverse effect in local and state elections. By invalidating “pre-clearance” she pointed out that the high court has effectively shifted the burden back onto the citizens alleging discrimination.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.