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Jeb! Says His Brother Went Too Far With Voting Rights

In his desperation to win right-wing primary support, Jeb! goes a bridge too far.
Jeb! Says His Brother Went Too Far With Voting Rights
Image from: Michael Vadon

The most painful thing of all is that Jeb! makes Shrub look like a statesman:

President George W. Bush is not a hero to voting rights advocates. His Justice Department gave the greenlight to voter ID laws, a common tactic by conservative lawmakers which prevents many younger, low-income and minority voters from casting a ballot. And Bush appointed two justices that joined the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision striking down much of the Voting Rights Act.

Nevertheless, at an event in Iowa on Thursday, Bush’s own brother claimed that the former president did far too much to protect voting rights — and that he should have placed more emphasis on states rights instead.

Legislation President Bush signed reauthorizing much of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Jeb, imposed too many “regulations on top of states.”

One of the most effective provisions of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that requires states with a history of racial voter suppression to “preclear” their new voting practices with officials in Washington before those practices can go into effect, was scheduled to sunset in 2007.

Despite some of his other actions that were less supportive of voting rights, President Bush signed legislation extending these provisions for another 25 years. The Voting Rights Act, Bush said at the signing ceremony for this extension, “broke the segregationist lock on the ballot box.” He also offered a relatively nuanced understanding of America’s struggle with race. Though “we’ve made progress toward equality” since the Voting Rights Act became law, Bush acknowledged that “the work for a more perfect union is never ending.”

At his appearance in Iowa, by contrast, Bush’s brother Jeb suggested that America has done enough to fight racial voter suppression and that it is time to back off. In response to a questioner who asked whether the Voting Rights Act should be “reauthorized,” the former Florida governor and presidential candidate warned against placing “regulations on top of states as though we were living in 1960.” Bush claimed that “there’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting” since the Voting Rights Act was originally enacted, and thus there is not “a role for the federal government to play in most places . . . where they did have a constructive role in the sixties.”

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