Eric Holder ‘Echoed’ Obama Speech in Selma

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Selma, AL

Attorney General Eric Holder’s remarks in Selma, AL, “echoed”—according to a report by The Hill—Obama’s comments on Saturday that “the march is not yet over.”

“Equality is still the prize,” Holder said in Selma, Ala. “Still, even now, it is clear that we have more work to do; that beloved community is not yet formed; that our society is not yet at a just peace.”

Holder delivered his comments in observation of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, in 1965. The historic event took place 50 years ago this weekend and inspired the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

“This means standing up, and speaking out, for the civil rights which everyone in this country is entitled,” Holder said. “It means calling attention to persistent disparities and inequities. And it means working tirelessly to safeguard and to exercise the right to vote.”

Yet, however lofty, the remarks of both men reflect an actual political fight beneath the surface. At issue is a potential new version of the Voting Rights Act versus the desire for prudent reforms such a voter ID.

At issue is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. It required some states with histories of racial discrimination to get federal approval before changing their individual voting laws. The Supreme Court removed that requirement in a 5-3 ruling in June, 2013.

Holder criticized the court’s decision during his address Sunday. He called the ruling “profoundly flawed” during his remarks.

“Let me be clear: While the Court’s decision removed one of the Justice Department’s most effective tools, we remain undaunted and undeterred in our pursuit of a meaningful right to vote for every eligible American,” Holder said. “We will march on, until the self-evident truth of equality is made real for every America. We will march on, until every citizen is afforded his or her right to vote.”

As the Huffington Post points out, multitudes of Democrats used their time in Selma to politic for legislation to be found at the heart of both Obama’s and Holder’s speeches. In some ways, the Selma event to remember events in Selma 50 years ago and honor Dr. King was exploited by today’s Democrats for what some see as purely political motives—to put Republicans on defense over their support for voter ID.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is among the hoards of lawmakers in Selma, Alabama, this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights marches, which sparked passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

But he’s not just there for a photo op. Coons is walking the streets with a copy of draft Voting Rights Act legislation in his pocket, trying to win support from his GOP colleagues to restore the landmark law.