Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) confronted Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) over claims that Republicans had become the party of “Jim Crow” because of their support for laws requiring voter ID and other anti-fraud protections.
In a hearing titled “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote,” Democrats sought to compare Georgia’s new voting law to laws that once prevented black people from voting in the South under the racist system known as Jim Crow.
Lee rejected the analogy, noting that the “reality” of Jim Crow laws had been that “white Democrats in the South” had not wanted black people to vote. “Let’s not compare a voter registration law, one that makes sure dead people can’t vote, to that.”
Durbin acknowledged that Democrats had once been the party of racial segregation, but claimed that political realignment since the 1950s put Republicans in that role. As evidence, he claimed Republicans opposed extending the Voting Rights Act.
Lee replied angrily that Republicans “never ceased to be the party that believes in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments matter, and that the inherent dignity of the immortal human soul is such that it should never be denigrated by subjecting someone, based on their race, to a lack of civil rights.” He said it was inaccurate to suggest the parties had “crossed.” Republicans had never changed their alignment on that issue, even if some Southern Democrats began voting Republican.
Durbin claimed that Republicans now opposed the Voting Rights Act, which had once had bipartisan support. Lee retorted that the only thing that had changed was that the Supreme Court had thrown out Section 5 of the law, requiring certain states to obtain “preclearance” from the Department of Justice before making any changes to their voting systems. That, he said, was “vey different from stated opposition to the Voting Rights Act itself.” He added: “I resent that.”
The Illinois Senator said, sarcastically and angrily, “Well, I’m sorry you resent it, Senator, but it’s a fact that we are dealing with a Voting Rights Act which used to be universal and bipartisan, and now is not. The Democrats support it, the Republicans do not.”
“It is not accurate to say Democrats support the Voting Rights Act, and Republicans do not,” Lee relied, repeating the fact that the Supreme Court had decided that singled out one section of that act as unconstitutional.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.