NBC10 - Doug Shimell
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared at the National Urban League Conference to speak about the attack on citizen's civil rights and voting rights around the country. NBC10's Doug Shimelll reports.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to require that the state ask for pre-approval before making changes to its voting laws.
Speaking to an audience at the National Urban League conference in Philadelphia, Holder also emphasized that he has shifted Justice Department resources to enforce sections of the Voting Rights Act that were untouched by the Supreme Court's ruling last month, which struck down a key provision of the law.
"Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court's ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law's remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all Americans are protected," Holder said.
The justices struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act last month, a key part that had required states with histories of voting discrimination to get federal approval before changing how they hold elections. The states are mainly in the South.
The "pre-clearance regime" that Holder is requesting from Texas will be similar to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, he said.
This marks the Justice Departments first act in fighting the justices' decision, though he said it "will not be our last."
The mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton, will speak Friday morning at the conference. (That event will also be livestreamed right here on the website.) Fulton supports an investigation into whether her son's killer could be charged under federal civil rights laws. A jury acquitted George Zimmerman of all criminal counts in Martin's death.
The Urban League, one of the nation's oldest civil rights organizations, is hosting a four-day conference that began Wednesday; about 6,000 people are attending.
President Marc Morial says the conference is also focused on increasing economic opportunities for African-Americans.