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Attorney general: voting rights a ‘moral imperative’

February 06, 2012

Tulane New Wave

Ryan Rivet

“We are dedicated to aggressively enforcing the Voting Rights Act,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tells a capacity crowd at Tulane Law School on Friday (Feb. 3). (Photos by Paula Burch-Celentano)  
Students, alumni, attorneys general from Louisiana and Alabama, local representatives of the Department of Justice and members of the media were present at Tulane Law School on Friday (Feb. 3) to hear U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder deliver this year’s George Abel Dreyfous Lecture on Civil Liberties and Human Rights.

Holder, who was sworn in as the nation’s top cop three years ago, told the law school audience that his justice department is committed to aggressively enforcing the laws that civil rights pioneers George and Mathilde Dreyfous fought for here in New Orleans. First and foremost on his list is what he called “the most basic right of American citizenship: the right to vote.”

“At the Department of Justice, our commitment to expanding access to voting opportunities and to preventing discrimination in our election systems has never been stronger,” Holder said.

He assured the audience that the Voting Rights Act is just as important to his justice department as it was when Lyndon Johnson signed it into law in 1965. As evidence, he noted that members of his department have opened a record number of investigations — more than 100 — in the last fiscal year.

After his lecture, Holder takes time to talk with students.
Additionally, Holder said that making voter registration more accessible under what is commonly known as the Motor Voter Act is a high priority for his office, and he urged citizens to make it one of theirs, as well.

“Ensuring meaningful access and combating discrimination must be viewed not only as a legal issue but as a moral imperative,” Holder said. “And every citizen in every state must be part of this work.”

In closing the 
lecture  he reiterated that safeguarding the right to vote was not the sole responsibility of the government.

“None of us can take the right to vote for granted,” said Holder. “Today, despite so many decades of struggle, sacrifice and achievement, we must remain ever-vigilant in protecting our most basic and important right. This is our challenge. And this is our time.”


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