tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 12, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
how we overcome these restrictions. tom has pointed out, representative waters pointed out, the fact that when these restrictions are in place they are significant for people. and the fact that we have communities that fight hard to overcome those restrictions does not make them right, or correct. and so, i think we have to continue as representative waters has stated and tom has stated and everyone here needs to understand, to fight against these restrictions, understand exactly what they are, which are efforts to take away the right to vote, restrict the right to vote from people, minorities, young people, you know, the idea that many of these i.d., voter i.d. laws do not allow you to use your college i.d., in texas, right, you can use gun, firearm owners card but can not use the college i.d. as your voter i.d.
and, how can that possibly be if your objective is to do anything other than limit young people's right to vote? and how, how can that be right in the country we live in. >> hands? >> i will end by saying, don't get the wrong impression, i think voting rights act i told you is the most important legislation passed in 100 years. it is still in place today and it should be in place and it has powerful tools to prevent discrimination when it occurs. how much discrimination in the occurring in this country? in the last six years under eric holder and under the obama administration, do you know how many cases have been filed under section two of the voting rights act claiming discriminatory practices? three. in, under section 11. about, there hasn't been a single case filed. this idea that voter i.d. keeps people from voting, like i said,
the data show that is not true but will tell you one other thing as lawyers you appreciate. look the indiana and georgia laws were challenged, on their face back in 2006 and 2007. in both cases the courts threw out the cases saying there with no evidence they were discriminatory or unconstitutional. absolutely nothing has prevented either the u.s. justice department or civil rights organizations from filing an as applied challenge in those two states in the last seven years, if they actually could find individuals who were unable to vote because of those laws. no as applied challenge has been filed. and just a year ago, i wrote an article in which i went and i looked up the names of the
witnesses that were put forward in the georgia case, all of whom swore under oath that they wouldn't, didn't have an i.d., would never be able to get an i.d., even though georgia was providing free i.d., and i checked their voting records with the official voting records with the secretary of state. all these individuals who had sworn they would never be able to vote, including a number of elderly voters had all been voting in election after election in georgia with the i.d. in place. so the idea that is a problem just isn't true. and, you know, where the, one of the only western democracies that does not uniformly require an i.d. to vote. even mexico, which has a much larger population in poverty than in us, requires a photo i.d. to vote. they have had no problems with depressing turnout just like the states here who have i.d. in place have no problem with
depressing turnout. >> congressman waters. >> let me just say, mr. hans made argument that basically conclude that we don't know what is in our best interests and that they are looking out for us, whoever they are. and that, we're too unsophisticated to appreciate that early voting days are not in our best interests and we don't know how to use it. secondly there is so much fraud that we are to be absolutely ecstatic they would have voter i.d. laws because in the final analysis they protect us. and of course, where you have found fraud, biggest fraud cases have been blacks against blacks, et cetera, et cetera. well, i mean, those arguments don't hold water. so while mr. hans has a book with all this information that he is sharing with us today, we
must understand that no matter these kinds of representations, we've got to organize, we've got to work hard. we have got do everything that we can to get congress to do what it needs to do and fight is on. and we do not buy any of his arguments. [applause] >> so we're going to try to ask our panelists if they might join us in the riverside room downstairs for the aba expo is. you will have a chance to talk. i don't think any books are being sold. but you will have the opportunity to get a free professional head shot or anything like that. secondly, our, real goal here was to have a full and spirited discussion of every aspect of this important problem. i think we succeeded. thank our panelists for that. august 6th, this week, the
50th anniversary of the what every single person that you heard from today identifies as one of the major if not the major civil rights legislation that we have passed takes this opportunity on august 6th to celebrate the importance of civil rights in america. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations]. >> later this month on c-span2, a look back at the voting rights act which was signed into law 50 years ago this month. ari berman, author of book, give us the ballot, modern struggle for voting rights in america, speaking at politics & prose bookstore in washington, d.c. you can see that live on booktv on c-span2 at 7:00 p.m. eastern. with the u.s. senate on its summer recess, booktv is in prime time all month on c-span2. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the printers row lit fest with kenneth davis on his book, the hidden history of america at war. untold tales from yorktown to fallujah. at 8:50 p.m., glen beck at freedom fest. his latest book, it is about islam. at 9:20, san antonio book
festival, helen thorpe, soldier girls. at 10:05 p.m. eastern on c-span2, tonight, conversation on concussions and the future of professional football. >> up next on c-span2 our congressional freshman profile with republican tom macarthur of new jersey's third district. the former insurance executive won his first term by almost 10-point margin. >> congressman tom macarthur of new jersey, can you recall first time you ever visited washington, d.c.? >> wow, that is a great question, bill. it was when i was a kid. i know i was here but first time i really remember being here and taking it all in not long after i was married. i came with my wife. it was before children. i would say 33 years ago maybe, maybe 32 years ago. >> just as a visitor?
>> just as a visitor, yeah. >> what surprised you about washington and congress in particular in the months you've been a member of the 114th. >> wow, it is an incredible privilege not just to observe but be part of it. be part of the discussion. try to frame issues and move our country forward. i represent people back home in new jersey and do right thing by them. i hope that never gets old for me. >> what is back home like? what is the makeup of the third district? >> well it's the southern part of new jersey. there is only one congressional district out of 12 south of me and it goes from the delaware river outside of philadelphia, clear across the state to the ocean. and on the eastern side, the ocean side of my district, it is 30 miles of the most beautiful part of the jersey shoreline. in burlington county as you get
over towards philadelphia, i have a lot of farmland, beautiful country and, it is just a great place, hard-working people, raising their families. it is a great place to live. >> as you came here, as a member representing that district, what were some issues that were top of your mind or top of your constituents they wanted you to address? >> well, then and now it is economy. we have had a recovery that doesn't feel like a recovery. and unemployment numbers are going down but largely because people arep fromming out of the workforce -- are dropping out of the workforce and taking part-time jobs to hobble together a living. it is unfortunate. it has not been a recovery at all. that's what people back home most want to see is congress work together, democrats and republicans, and get things done that can move our country forward. >> on that we saw a news article that says you have a regular
practice of entering the house chamber you there the doors on the democratic side of the aisle. why do you do that? >> i started to do it, i think just you know, sometimes you go in one side. sometimes you go in the other side. but i stop to talk to people and ever since, which has been really most of my time here, i just do do it every time now, i see my republican colleagues at different events, social events, political events. we convene as a republican conference. i have plenty of opportunity to be with my republican colleagues but less so with my democratic colleagues. one. things i observed even before i took office even during the orientation process, partisanship is sort of built into the dna of this place. if you're not intentional about overcoming it, you just slip into being a republican or a democrat with very little interaction. so, it may seem like a simple
gesture. but for me it is the opportunity to get to know people from the other side. >> have you seen other members trying to make that intention effort at bipartisanship? >> wealthy there is, yeah, there are certainly classmates of mine, people came in at the same time that believe that we were sent here to make the place work and you simply can not do that if you only focus on your own party. you can get away wit some of the time on issues perhaps that have broad support across party lines but, but on issues where it could go one way or the other, if you don't cultivate real genuine relationships with people in the other party, then i think those are lost moments. >> tell us about your background and what the experiences that you had that really you think trained you most or qualified you most for the position you're in now as a member of congress. >> well, i always said as i was running that i was running as a businessman but i think the things that have shaped me, and
made me able to function in this place with other people, because it is really a very human environment, are not just the business things. it goes back further than that i grew up in a family, middle class family. my dad was a mid-level government worker. my mom was a stay-at-home mom with five kids and it was a pretty lively house. my mother was a very liberal democrat and my father at that time was a very conservative republican. he has moderated a bit through the years. he is 85 now. and my mom was a democrat. my father was a republican. we grew up literally arguing religion an politics around the dinner table. and i think that shaped me a lot. i say my mom. this was the mom that raised me. my birth mother died when i was four. and of cancer. my dad had no insurance at the time. and i watched him work at least two jobs, for most of my
upbringing, three jobs to pay, i didn't know it at the time, but to pay for our family to stay together and have a life. it took him until i was about 19 years old to pay off medical bills from my mother's death. she died when i was four. and you know, i watched his work ethic. it shaped my work ethic a lot. i got married out of college. 33 years ago my wife and i had a, our first child was born with special needs. and that kind of grew me up fast. i was in my early 20s. we had to make a decision that nobody wants to make, which is what to do, we found out on the fourth month of pregnancy if she lived grace was going to have severe handicaps. you know, that shaped me a lot in life. we had grace. she lived to be 11 years old. very, very difficult, when she
died. very dark couple of years. we had adopted a child and we adopted another child about a year-and-a-half after grace passed. before i talked about business at all, those are the things that make a person a person. those are the things that make me feel compassion when i see people struggling. my life has not been all roses. government can not do everything but government can certainly help. when i look at issues like health care, or immigration, or job creation and the economy, all of the issues whatever you might think of, for me, trying to find where government can help real people have better lives. >> given your back, experience with your mom in health care, is obamacare getting it right? do you feel like -- >> unfortunately i think not. i think free market reforms are
better. the intent is good. i think there are things that i would keep like coverage for kids up to 26 years old i think is good. i think preexisting condition coverage is important. these are things, i came out of the insurance industry. these are things insurance companies can model into their premiums so i support that. i also believe we should have safety nets for those that have access to coverage. i think federal government is the wrong place to do it. i think state plans like that would be a better place. i saw it. i mentioned i was in business. that is the other thing that shaped my life. >> the insurance business. >> i got out of college, is have very lucky i fell in love with my first job. i investigated insurance claims in the new york city projects. it was really eye-opener. i grew up in a little farm town. i grew up working on a
neighbor's dairy farm. suddenly i was transplanted into manhattan, investigating claims in the projects. i really found it interesting. i ended up going into management and ultimately had a chance to run a very small company. and grew that. from one office, 100 or so people, to thousands of people and 100 odd offices across the country and i saw some things that help and hurt. i saw where state and federal action enabled us to do things and made it more difficult to do things. i learned to work with other people whether they agreed with me or not. that is how you get business done. sometimes i made acquisition. and i sat at the table with somebody who was my opponent in the marketplace. and, and figured out what they wanted and needed so that we could do a deal together. and those things i think
combined with the things that have shaped me personally, have given me ability to actually get things done. that's what i hope to bring. >> politics became somewhat of a calling? you've been a mayor, correct? >> i was a local mayor. i've always been directly in public policy, in government's role. i studied history in college and focused a lot on american social history and political history. yeah, i ran for local office. actually became a local council man. then a deputy mayor and a mayor. i really liked it. and felt that i was pretty good at it. i have solved problems that had been unsolvable in a town, a small town, not small, but mid-sized town of 26,000 people. and then when this seat opened up i decided i had something to offer and ran for it, ran for
the office. >> go back to your family for a moment. understand you and your wife set up a charitable foundation. what motivated that? and what do you do with that foundation? >> well we, my wife runs it. i'm her secretary and treasurer. but she's the leading person in that. and i, you know, we started to do do really well in business. and i grew up with the sense that when you have been blessed, you have a responsibility to, and a joy helping other people. so we were trying to figure out what to do with the things that we had. we decided to create this foundation. initially to help children. we named it igh charitable foundation. and maybe i will take a moment and tell but the name because it is kind of telling for how we thought about it. when i first suggested buying my company from its owners at the
time, i had the first meeting with them and i broached subject. i was running it already but they owned it and they were interested. and i came back, you know how you do. you put your notes into a file and i gave it a code name because i didn't want you know, put acquisition of york. i wanted to keep it a secret at that point. i gave it the code name igh. by the time i was done with the acquisition, i had file cabinets of these igh files. it stood for in god's hands because i thought it was so far beyond, this was so far beyond my ability to buy a company. i didn't have the money to do it. i borrowed money from the owners of the company to buy their company. -- so we named the foundation that -- we wanted to focus on kids in really difficult circumstances that might feel uncared about. we wanted to remind them they're in god's hands too.
so it has evolved somewhat. at the time we focused just on children. we built a school in africa for kids that lost both parents to aids. we have done work in india for young girls being prostituted very young. their mothers were prostitutes and literally growing up in the red light district. we wanted to get them out of that environment. we've given away now, over 2200 wheelchairs in memory of our daughter grace. as time has gone on, we've felt the need to do other things. we have done a lot with disaster assistance. we've done a lot in the last five years or so with wounded warriors. we began to go in other directions as well. we still do a lot with children. and then it has really been a great privilege to be able to see kids get some help, people get some help. >> we're catching you in a couple of days before the end of the session, at least before the
august recess. fairly light legislative day but what's typical day for you like here in the house? >> long. you know, there is a mix of, of official duties like being at hearings or briefings. there is relationship-building. i will spend time sometimes with other members. and try to get to know them and them me. there is getting my mind around the issues i'm voting on. and while it is hard to get deeply involved in every issue i simply won't vote on an issue without knowing why i'm voting the way it is voting, meeting a suspension vote. meaning rules are suspended because it is sort of an easy bill to pass. even though as i have a need to understand what i'm voting on. so i will spend some time on that. there are some political responsibilities sometimes that go beyond the official office. for those we have to leave
government property. and go do that. so there is a lot to it. >> how is your relationship with speaker boehner and his team? >> it's good. the speaker has been incredibly helpful to me. when i was running, he has been helpful since. just in terms of giving guidance. i've spoken to him on number of issues that concerned me. he has been helpful politically to me, outside of the official duties. and -- >> your district is considered a bit of a toss-up district. do you think that leadership understands the political calculation that you have to consider as you prepare for the next round of -- >> they do. i make sure they understand. i try hard, i'm a republican for a reason and so i'm, you know, i vote in a way that a republican would vote much of the time but there have been key votes where i simply couldn't support my party's direction and i tried
very hard to make those known as early as possible. because, i just think that is an important part of being on a team. >> you say you're a republican for a reason. your dad was conservative republican was your mom was pretty liberal. what about your mom's political views that you can recall or your memory of her, that you appreciate or that you agree with? >> well, there is a few things. my, my mom had a healthy skepticism about the use of power. because it can corrupt and it can be abused and i am very careful about the use of power. i was in my business and i am in this, in this position. my mother believed government could be a force for good. i, i think sometimes maybe more so. you know i think she saw government being involved in things that i think are better left to the individual, or, better left to the state and
local government. but i certainly appreciate her strong conviction that government can help. in fact that is one of the reasons that america is, there is wonderful country it is because of the form of government we have and how it has been implemented over the last 200 years. >> if you had to give a grade for government help, hurricane sandy, what letter grade would you give fema, federal government help on that? >> you know that is a mixed bag, bill. fema did some things that were incredibly helpful to fema in my district. if you haven't been there it is hard to imagine devastation. homes that simply floated away. cars, boats, strewn everywhere. roads that were impassable. gas lines, under the line that were bubbled up. it was a mess and fema did help. but, there has been great disappointments as well. it is now 2 1/2 years later and
there were, there were evidence of fraud that came out where engineering companies were mismarking reports so fema could get out of paying the claims. fema knew about that in august of 2013 and it came to light just in the last few months during a "60 minutes" interview of one of their senior staff. that to me is atrocious. and there has been, from my perspective, has been not enough accountability. for that reason i called for the director's resignation over a period of months because i felt like they had really dropped the ball. i feel like they did a terrible job of helping my constituents understand the programs they were eligible for. in some cases i will give an example. the small business administration was making loans to individuals. normally they support business. they were helping individuals and they were aggressively offering them but they never told the people that if they
took those, they would be ineligible for rem grants, which is the main kind of grant that allowed people to rehabilitate and lift their homes. and so i have got thousands of people now who are ineligible for the grants they need and in fact i proposed legislation that would eliminate. that it would make a loan which has to be repaid in a secured by your home, not considered a grant which makes you ineligible for other grants. >> as you sit behind your desk sometimes in your office, do you sometimes dread knock on door from con sit wants or is that part of your job? >> i never dread that that is one of the greatest privileges. we have two offices in the state. one in each county. i hired staff specifically to focus on serving those constituents. i wanted people that would be able to get to know the federal
bureaucracy, that had compassion for people, that wouldn't get frustrated. and been really proud of what we've done. we helped veterans. we helped people on social security that had been fighting in some cases for years to get justice and because we got involved, people get checks. some of them for a few thousand. there is one case where we got somebody a check for $40,000 that had been denied them. so i never dread that. it is what informs my proposal of legislation. most of the bills that i have proposed have come out of interactions with my constituents. just hearing what their needs are. >> before we wrap up we'll visit a couple of fun questions about your office. the broken skateboard on your wall, what is the story on that? . .
it reminds me of the farming community. there are 800 family farms in my district and there are paintings all over the wall of voting and seascapes and i have a lot of military things in my office. back to the -- that's how these to pick cranberries. today it's a mechanized process but back then they use those rates. >> host: the third district of new jersey. it's been a pleasure to speak
c-span congressional freshmen profile series continues with democrat randall lawrence of michigan's 14th district. before being elected to congress she worked for the postal service, served on her local school board and was mayor of southfield michigan. at but the representative brenda lawrence democrat from michigan, before you came to the house this year you spend a long career working in the federal government. what kind of work did you do and what perspective did he give you on the seat that you now hold? >> guest: i'm proud to say i was a postal worker, postal employee for the united states postal service. came in being a letter carrier, actually walking door-to-door in the weather, worked my way up to management and actually after 30
years to retire, not retire by two transition from management district job to go to be a full-time mayor of my community. >> host: what perspective do give you on how government should be working? >> guest: you know it's a government agency so knowing the checks and balances and not being frustrated with that, understanding the impact of perspective tax dollars although the postal service generates revenue. we were a taxpayer generated, the brevity came that way but it came from myself but was he about that as we were regulated by the federal government so there were some internal control restraints and expectation of our role in public service to
the country was extremely consistent throughout my service and i served in h.r. who is very concerned, served in customer service were actually had the responsibility of delivering the mail and that gave me early on in my career the first time ever had a respect of public service. >> host: you were born and raised in detroit michigan. what was that like collects what did you see over the years and up to present-day? >> guest: being born and raised in detroit is an amazing thing. i came up in the motown area. we were passionate about our cars in the manufacturing industry was in our blood. we all know the story. peak during my lifetime i saw huge decline. i'm so excited to represent the
city of detroit at a time where everything is coming back to life. it was almost like you were dying on the fine at a certain time and now you see the auto industry has rebounded. manufacturing is being redefined and the definition -- we are still a major player in detroit. to see the foreclosure crisis devastated our area and region and now we see those homes being bought and occupied again is just a great time and you feel like you are coming back to life. i'm so excited to be part of that and to just live through it it's my home and nap to see it coming back to life. >> host: what originally drew you to public service and how did it start with you? >> guest: it all started with pta. very active in my children's education and every time we wanted something done we had to go to them or to talk to the
people and the board members and i said i want to be on that board. i don't think they get it and i think we can do a better job. i was a little reluctant and you know the story about women going into politics you have to be on the ballot and get elected and go through that whole cycle. i was encouraged to do it and when i won the first timeout, it was so amazing. it was like a rush but then it became very sobering it is then i realized these people trust in you and then i will it and as every time i won an election for school board, city council, mayor for 14 years and now to be a member of congress, i have taken that initial sober moment when i sat there after being so exhilarated over winning and now
i'm an elected official to what this is is a vote of confidence from the people. you have a responsibility and every time i took a boat, i was at the school district over thousands of children. opportunities and basically their future. i've i have taken every single job that i've had with the public wouldn't trust in me and seriously divided as being a public servant to. >> host: you were in fact the first woman and first african-american mayor of southfield. what did that mean at the time, what does it mean to you present-day and tell me about southfield. >> guest: when i was elected a recorder i said you know me think because your city at the time is about 40% african-american, 60% white or other races and do you think
it's because there's a growing number of -- in the city and other city of southfield voted and elected me to be their mayor. now i'm going to use every skill set, all the passion i can to represent the city and to provide the government services, the public services. god decided to create me a woman and left me with his beautiful brown color. if you want to talk about ares, i want to talk about what i want to do for my city. i don't take lightly the fact that i'm a woman and supposed to build a sit-in nor the history and legacy and challenges of being an african-american in america. i don't take that lightly. i want so much to be a role model and every time i see a little girl or an african-american say when i go to school and they say you are a mayor?
i tell them you can't too. take that very seriously and when i talk to women i used to phrase it as i'm planning my term and pulling my shoulders back because i know of the need to stand my shoulders. we are still a minority. we are still only 43 in the u.s. house of congress and so as we have increased to the largest numbers ever to have the voice of the people i represent and to have the diversity of my life and experiences at the table to debate issues, to be a woman in congress and to be able to buy for those issues that i feel are important to win, childcare, issues about hanging a caregiver , our ability to make choices about our own reproductive rights. those are important and i don't take those likely -- lightly so
to say that i've been given this opportunity i'm wearing it with pride and i also wear it with a tremendous amount of responsibility. i'm excited to be here. >> host: what's the connection between being a mayor and a member of congress? what lessons did you take from that past experience that helps union office? >> guest: being a mayor, you have a lot more stuff. just the national impact. i owned my city and i knew every single block of it or you if i want to know how people felt about an issue, it was manageable. when you go to congress and you start getting lobbied for so many different interest groups, for every issue there is a proand there is icon.
when you wrote on an issue the impact which i have never taken lightly, the impact on the national level. the most sobering moment that i have been in congress during his period of time being a freshman and i like to say fresh woman but i say freshmen, it was the time when i received a letter from the president for the right to initiate military force. that was sobering. you know i had a police force and we went to save people. we went to take care of the city and if there was a bad guy we were trained to deal with that but it needs military force was a very sobering moment. i missed the intimacy of my constituents. i love going home for district time because i get to touch the
people and hear from them and get that energy of am i meeting my mark, what's important to you? i never want to lose that and i think local government, that's what i wanted to run for congress, because to give you an example the highway trust fund you talk about issues about minimum wage, education. these are issues we are talking about and i know these intimate impacts under federal laws right down to the home. that's why i wanted to run for congress. i felt that voice in that experience was lacking and i never want to lose touch with mike constituents. hosgri or district has been described as a combination of vastly different communities. explain the district how it's made up who is there, what they think what they would like you
to do for them. >> guest: so, i have some of the most wealthiest communities not only michigan but in the country and i have as you know the detroit comanches have gone through extreme challenges with criminal justice, with education reform, but unfortunately violence. we have had some of the most challenging issues, social issues play out in my district. so we have the bankruptcy that you saw the. goes. i have four communities in my district going through are coming out of being under financial managers. in addition to that i have the largest number of middle eastern population at my district and in the neighboring districts. so i have issues that are
playing out in lebanon and in yemen. all of these are my constituents so were some congress members may not be dealing with what's happening in yemen these are my constituents and their families so that has been an issue and a responsibility for me when that comes to my casework, when it comes to my being sensitive. we have a very large jewish populations of issues with israel are very important. my constituents might district is majority african-american. they want me to have a voice and stand up and fight for them. what is happening when it comes to policing in america on education, you know title i it breaks my heart because i know the impact on those children who are in poverty has on their
ability to succeed in an educational situation that most people would call not normal. there are so many challenges. this is an opportunity, when i talk about the diversity. in addition to that i have water all around me. they are very passionate. you had better protect our water. you had better be on board with this and then you have the issue of people are split on choice or life. those issues always play out read when we talk about funding for our roads, oh my -- michigan is one of the worst in the country. we need to invest in our infrastructure and i'm so proud that i started to task force, a caucus on skills training.
i'm from a manufacturing environment so i saw factories closed and moved to mexico but now the industry is coming back. what you see where the person is to stand there together a robot does that. that job doesn't exist and that person may be unemployed but the robot they need someone to program it and electronics technician to repair it. here you are with a brand-new set of opportunities and while we are at doing well with engineers that base and support we are across the country there is a huge gap and only 30% of our children go to college. we in america do not support skills training. you and i both know, i don't care how rich you are when your toilet stops working you need a plumber and when your lights stopped working unique
electrician. when your computer stops working in need of programmer. these are field training jobs that before you can do the manufacturing labor they don't exist any more and we will have to focus and support that. i submitted a bill that if you as a manufacturing company will take one of your employees and trained them in a trade we will give you incentives for up to 20% to do that. we ask that the united states government must address the skills gaps and the unemployment hosgri you mentioned a diverse portfolio and back in the district paid how do you balance your time between the work you do on the hill and committees here on the floor and going back home and raising money for re-election? how do you do at all? >> it's a grind. what is amazing the difference between being a mayor i had more
control of my life. here you have to make a commitment and every member has a scheduler because it's your full-time job. it's to manage your schedule and have time for my granddaughter who is the light of my life. my husband of 40 plus years. i trained him, i don't have time to train another one and i want to keep them so you have to schedule time to be with your family. to say that raising funds for money, i'm still celebrating winning congress and already i'm preparing for a re-election so i'm right back into the campaign mode and then when you talk about those voting i have to spend time with my constituents. when i leave here, get on the plane, travel home and get off the plane and go to district to work. people say you are going home to relax. that is not the case.
>> how did you first make your way around the hill as a new member? how did you find out where to go , what to do when you got there and the whole orientation thing? >> guest: i think the administration committee did an amazing job with orientation and what they did that i thought was so profound that they included the spouse or your spouse would get a sense of what your world would be like. it was two weeks of going from all of our orientation except for security or ratings, they were included, going on the floor seeing where we were sitting, what we will be doing. that was important. the other thing is that this is a massive building with tamils that will take you places that you have never heard of. once they start building staff who have been on the hills they would walk with you to make sure
you got you to where you were supposed to be. i know now how to get to the cafeteria but it was trial and error and the kind of laughter you because they know when you are freshmen because you are walking around with outlook and they will say or you lost? >> are c-span viewers might see you and other members two minutes on the floor five minutes in a hearing. is that enough time to express yourself to ask the right questions of people and what should the viewers know that they may not stand tv? >> guest: what you see on tv are hearings and committee work is where legislation is ground out. they may not see that because that's another channel to watch for the actual hearings and they could be like paint drying but that is where the work is and that's what gives me being a freshman here in congress were i
have learned more. you also, when you see us on the floor one thing many people don't realize when you see is buzzing around we are actually talking about bills and legislation and debating with our colleagues. you will see us cross over and talk to republicans. i need your support on the this a mic can you do this and a lot of work happens on that floor before taking a vote and that was surprising to me. before coming to congress it was archaic. it looked like all these people running around to talking and when they sitting down being orderly? that's one time or where every member of congress on the floor and you can go over and touch someone and say i need to talk to you about something. that's something people need to look at other briefings i have an amazing legislative staff. every district, every congressional office we hire
people and that's all they do is grind and go and dig in to legislation. we have a lot of reading to do. we have caucus meetings. that goes on all day long and it's on issues and to learn more and sometimes you go to another committee incidentally can learn more. plus go overall and more broadly what do you make of the way the town and e. berg? are covered? >> guest: there are some traditions on this hill that i find amazing that we still use. i don't know if a lot of people know this, when we are in session a person puts on white gloves and bring in to signal that we are in session. i found that amazing. it's a tradition that has gone on for years.
i question sometimes the partisan. i'm concerned about that because for some issues that we are all on board on its locked into a partisan issue that i simply can't understand. i'll give an example, the homeland security budget. there was no member of congress who realized it was important that we got sidetracked on an issue that was put into that though. i keep saying this, if we agree on an issue and it's good for our country and it's good policy that slowed him back and take care of the people's business. there are some things we fundamentally disagree on. let's grant that out. there's nothing wrong with partisan discussion and debate.
our country was built on that. democratic republican philosophy and everyone thinks we have one of the best democracies in the world so don't come out afraid of the grind but don't grind on rings that we agree on. don't implant devices, legislation into something. with new eyes on the system that causes me some grief. >> host: besides the massive reading you have to do for legislation what else do you read? what do you like to read and the office outside of the officer at home and -- >> guest: well for me i'd like to read the newspaper. i like to know what's going on. i like to read editorials. to me that gives me a broader view of what people are saying.
if i read, i'm going to read something that is fiction. i need some time to just get away from the real hard issues and just read. i love motivational books that will give you tools on how to get through a different tack -- difficult challenging time. i love the books on women and leadership. as a matter fact i'm writing one now. it is important to me for women who have been given the opportunity for leadership to really navigate through that and share that so other women can avoid some of the pitfalls and roadblocks we have had. >> host: beside your staff what's important to you in this room, in this office, mentos, pictures? >> guest: welcome well, family. i never want to loose sight of how important family is.
i told you have been married to my childhood sweetheart and i have an amazing granddaughter. i have to just great children and i think in everything that you do, like right now when i'm talking about education my granddaughter is currently in school being educated. when i talk about long-term care insurance i think about my parents and my grandparents who i was a caretaker for. so family kind of decides everything that we talk about here. it's hard to dismiss from not and i will tell you that there are other things in here, different pieces of detroit that are brought into my office. i'm a member of a sorority sigma
theta and i'm so proud of the women. i think that when life is defined everyone has a beginning date and end date and what is difference is what's in between i'm just so grateful to be able to have a staff that i have and be able to -- not only in my city on my schools but in the country. >> host: as we begin to wrap up the mentioned leadership and we should point out you were elected by your peers and appointed a senior whip. why do you think they gave you those assignments and what does it mean to you? what you hope two this? >> guest: the senior whip i was offered before i got sworn in. i asked that question.
you do know i'm a freshman, right? and he said yes but when i look at your background the path that you have taken and takes periods and skills set that you bring he said that a voice that i wanted the table. so as a senior with you are hearing the challenges, the legislation in the bills and you are sitting there with other seniors to bring perspective. what do you think is good about that and so i want to continue to bring that skill set that i have and i'm so proud of to the discussion the federal government. we were a freshman class of some amazing people and we have stayed really close and so to have eight class but trust me and i send out a newsletter to them telling them what we are doing in different members to make sure we keep that closeness.
>> host: finally back to the people you represent. how long would you like to serve in the house that they will keep you and he ran for lieutenant governor at one point at michigan. do you have a larger aspiration back home in michigan? >> guest: i am living and working my dream job. i have been given this amazing opportunity. i want to serve as long as people keep me here. as long as i have the fire in the belly i was telling my staff, i was walking down the hall of the capital and i said i never want to lose a sense of awe of this place. i think about the history and the people. i never want to walk around and feel like i'm in a special place. if i ever lose that i'm going home. ..
>> if you can ask a question that's helpful because we videotape this and c pan is also here tonight to tape this event, an for that reason, especially, we do ask that you be mindful to keep your questions short and to the point, and be mindful as much as we would love to hear your ongoing opinions about all sorts of matters in the interest of time and focus, if you could stay on subject and keep it brief it would be very, very grateful for that. and then at the end, sign his book. signing lineup here as we usually do. plenty of copies up front if you
haven't had a chance to purchase it, we have copies at the front register. in any case, it is a pleasure for all of us here to host arie berman for give us the ballot, the modern struggle for voting right it is in america. arie is a journalist spent time writing about forces that shape american politics, and the evolution of our political system. he's a correspondent for the nation. contradicted to other leading publication and frequent presence on nprmsnbc and this is his second book. i have to tell you what a great contribution it is to explaining the great promise of american democracy. but also it is ongoing relentless challenges with the election of barack obama in 2008, and reelection in 2012, and the 50th anniversary of selma in bloody sunday, earlier this year, americans can be justifiably proud of the progress we've made since days of literacy tax and avert
suppression of voting rights in many parts of our country. but as arie writes persuasively we should not taking progress on voting rights for granted sometimes we all get wound up about citizens united but we'll be wound up about other things as women. his thorough and clear writing about events leading up to and following of the voting rights act and needsly since the election of barack obama, provides frankly a fairly distressing picture of how or pa we have or o haven't come in achieving the full enfranchisement of our citizens. also what it means for a democracy when many gains have been effectively reversed. now with a presidential election looming in 2016 in which voter participation particularly of historically marginalized group can be protected, voting rights should be front and center in all of our minds so we're delighted to serve as a forum for discussion that is so important here tonight, and will
be for many weeks and months to come. and we're also extremely happy and lucky that joining arie in conversation is he had hedrick senior editor and mainstay of the magazine talk of the town section. he's also editorial director of the nation institute. rick was a speech writing for jiminy carter editor and author of books. he's one was most respected political and social critics around. so we're just so delighted to have you both here. this is going to be a fascinating session. thank you all for coming and thank you both for coming. >> thank you so much. [applause] thank you so much. can everyone hear okay? i'm so glad to be back and so glad to be back at politic and pros, i mean, this is my number one favorite bookstore as a customer and as an author. this is a place that really
knows how to treat a reader and how to treat a writer too. and i'm so glad to be here with arie. he's one of the best political reporters and analysts of his generation. i've been following his work for a long time and impressed with the book that we're here to talk about tonight. give us a ballot is about as timely a book as it is possible to be. coming out on the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act, in the wake of the supreme court decision, and the shelby case, and at the beginning of a presidential campaign, it was the question to be less who are people going to vote for perhaps than which people are going to be allowed to vote? so arie, i want to start, i want to start basically by asking you, how you came to write this book, i mean, what made you start reporting on voting rights, and what made you think it could be a book, and what did you --
what are big things you learned in the course of you searching it? >> well, thanks so much for that introduction, rick, and i just want to thank politics and prose for having me. i think everyone recognizes this is one of the world's greatest book stores so to be here is really special, and to have c-span here it is great, my second book event. so i'm grateful for everyone to come here and i'm really grateful to have rick in -- doing the moderating surreal because i grew up wanting to be rick hertz bring i read 170 pages of his book, politics" some of them in times so to have rick praise my work is really meaning a lot. very looking forward to this conversation. as to how i came to start recording on voting rights, i had been covering american politics for the nation for some time, and i noticed in early 2011 after so many state legislatures have slipped from democratic to republican that a
bunch of states all across the country were introducing new voting restrictions. things like shutting down voter registration drives, cutting early voting, purpling voting rules. disenfranchising ex-felons. requirings government issue that never needed before to cast the ballot. this was happening across the country particularly in key swing states like florida, ohio, and wisconsin and no one was covering it. and there was just brief mentions in "the new york times" or washington post welcome and so i pitched a story to rolling stone, where i had written once before and who had covered voting rights issues in the past and i said to rolling stone i think it is a national trend that is emerging very disturbing national trend following the election of the first black president. we should cover this. without really knowing much about the subject matter which i don't recommend young journalist to do know a lot before you pitch a story. but if i became -- took a crash course on voting
rights and i wrote the store in august 2011 with a provocative title they called it gop war on voting, and it ended up being a really bigger story than i anticipated. a lot of people have the same reaction i had which was outrage. how in the year 2011 is this still going on? are there still efforts to make it harder to vote? and then i realized after doing the article that i was one of the few people that are actually reporting on voting rights and knew something about this subject, and what happened is, more states started passing new restrictions. laws were challenged in court, there were major immobilizations against these effort website and it became a major issue in the 2012 election. soy covered the 2012 election through the lens of who coulding and couldn't participate in what influenced these new restrictions would have. and then after the election of what we saw as a supreme court decided to hear a challenge to the voting rights act, and i was fascinated by this case shelby county versus holder and why it was challenged and what it did, and i started asking my friends, and colleagues who i relied on
voting the rights experts what shouldty read to better understand the voting rights act? to my surprise there wasn't a lot out there about what the law did and led to the passage dramatic events of selma, alabama, but wasn't a lot about that 50 years that happened after that. i knew at a time when voting rights were under attack, i knew that the supreme court was likely to gut the voting rights act and i knew we're headed to the 50th anniversary of the vra. i thought all of this could make for a timely book. because i had reported on this maybe i had expertise to do it. and so i'm glad that i -- i listened to myself, and i think, you know, ended up being an important story that needed to be told. >> all right tell us a little about just what the vra is and what it does and did, what its various sections did. in brief. >> so the voting right it is acted wide rei regard as most important piece of civil rights legislation. but also just one of the most
important piece of legislation ever to pass by the congress. because it really did work, and it worked to end decades of disenfranchisement in the south. what it did is overnight it abolished literacy tests in the places like selma, where it had december enfranchised african-american voters for decades and authorized attorney general to abolish poll tax that was subsequently abolished. and then days after act was passed federal examiners were sent to the south to register voters in places like selma which was a really revolutionary undertaking at a situation in selma where only 2% of african-americans were registered before the vra, and mississippi only 6% of african-americans were registered. so doing this work was very difficult and very necessary, and what you saw is within days hundreds of registered then thousands, eventually millions so registering of voters was a key part of it. abolitioners was a part of it and then ?aid the south to make sure elections wrnght stolen in selma to make sure states comply with the law.
over a longer period of time what happened is those states with the worst history it is of voting discrimination places like alabama, mississippi, and georgia. and south carolina -- they had to approve their voting changes with the federal government to make sure that states complied that we didn't have to pass a voting rights act of 1966 and 1967, and 1968, and a so that enforcement mechanism, the fact that this was what the supreme court rendered inoperative that the law could block changes discriminate changes before they went into effect made it so powerful over a period of five decades. >> how many times did laws get blocked by that? >> one provision alone section five blocked over 3,000 discriminatory voting changes what i show in the book is if people will take one thing away from the book, it is that the fight over voting rights didn't end in 1965. that a whole new chapter of the struggle began and states came up with more sophisticated ways
to try to thwart act and they keptçw3 trying to implement vog changes that were discriminatory in naturec4ot the federal government kept stopping them and this was a battle that continued really for five decades. untilt( 2013 when the supreme court removed that critically important o protection. >> now every time the vra was renewed under a republican president.w3 nixon in 1974, and '75. reagan in '82 and george w. bush in 2006. every time it was renewed there was a big ceremony for the white house where the president gave a speech about how wonderful the vra was. were those presidents all lying? >> well, it is -- fascinating because i think many people think of the vr arntion as a democrats and piece of legislation passed by lyndon johnson in the hay day of the great society but they've been in passage of the vra but reauthorization as well there's been a strong bipartisan
consensus per the voting right it is act in congress, and what is interesting that the voting right it is act has been reauthorized four times even though many of those republican presidents really did not want to reauthorize the act and tried hard to subvert it. first richard nixon with a southern strategy did not want to sign a reauthorization of the vra but forced because of republican moderates in his own party pushing back against him. ronald reagan not a fan of the voting act opposed it when it was passed and administration which i'm sure we'll talk about launched abroad and revolution against civil rights but reagan was portioned to sign of the var because people stepped up to him. george w. bush another administration that worked to subvert the voting rights act they even george bush had to sign this because you have republican members of congress like gin of wisconsin who stood up and said this is a friert for
us. even though there have been republican efforts all throughout the years, to try to gut this act, the congress historically has protected voting rights that's something that held up later and shifted today. >> how exactly did the -- did the republicans administration and the officials they ape appointed try to subvert the act. how did they try to do that? >> so, taking one administration -- >> i'll give you one example. early on that kind of shows what happens. so after the vra ftion -- was passed, the court upheld its constitutionality quickly to give backgrounds, pretty much weeks after the act was passed states like south carolina were already figuring out how they were going to substitute constitutionality of it and rare and never happens so there was a two-day oral argument one of the longest oral arguments in supreme court history, and
essentially south carolina and other southern states said that the federal government didn't have the power to regulate state voting changes and state voting procedures and supreme court said very clearly in 8-1 decision south carolina but yes, in fact, that's why the voting rights act was passed presicely because the federal government needed to regulate to make sure african-american and other minority groups disenfranchised after it was upheld states started thinking of more sophisticated ways to subvert the vra and tried to dilute the emerging minority vote and mississippi held a special legislative session in 1966 and passed 13 election changes. to try to weaken the power of the african-american vote jerry political district african-americans from getting elected they consolidated smaller black counties with larger white counties so they would remain in control. they made every election in multinumbers districted so that if you had a situation where --
a district was 60% white and 40% african-american, and elected ten candidates, all ten candidates would be white. and this was a major restructuring of its election system. and this -- these laws were challenged, and they were challenged before the supreme court, and basically the argument was made the by the justice department and civil rights groups that the voting rights act was -- both to regulate all of these new volting changes that were coming up. and mississippi said, that the act only applied to registration didn't apply to broader notions of representation. supreme court in a very influential 1969 case alan versus state board of elections said yes all of these voting changes have to be approved any election change has to be approved because the voting rights act is going to deal with not just with the right to vote, but the power of the vote. to guarantee that once you register your vote actually means something. so that established section piste act, the preclearance provision, and what happened is
that was very controversial and almost immediately southern conservatives wanted to get rid of their acquirement that states had to approve voting changes with the federal government. so when richtd nixon campaigned in 1968 he promised conservatives who were supporting him that he was going to gut section five of the vra. so once he became president, that's exactly what head tried to do, and he failed in that effort as i mentioned the congress wouldn't allow nixon administration to do that, but what we see is -- even after nixon lewded that battle there's a five decade effort to weaken quickly that part of the law that succeeds in the supreme court in 2014. >> what happens -- what happens in the other three times with under ford, under ford under reagan and under bush, did it get worse and did the rationals change? >> well, the interesting thing about the fact that the vra was
reauthorized four times is even though there are efforts to weaken it, every time it was reauthorized it emerged stronger, so in 1970, the vra reauthorized for years but lowered to 18 for all federal election website about and literacy tests were abolished nationwide. so voting act became the vehicle to expand voting rights for all americans not just one segment of the population. and 1975, voting rights act it was expanded to protect hispanics and other language minority groups. so it mandated bilingual ballots and states that had discrimination against groups other than african-americans texas had a long history against latino voters but they now have to submit their voting period for federal approval. so that made the act a lot more broad and a lot more powerful. in 1982, there was a big effort to try to weaken the voting rights act. i read a lot about this in the book and a people line john roberts young lawyer played major roles in this story because the supreme court had
just ruled in a case from alabama that you had to limit cases of discrimination to intentional discrimination which was very difficult to prove. by the 1980s, most states didn't say i want to discriminate against black or latino voters but more subtle about it and gotten smarter in terms of how they were trying to discriminate. so that was a big blow to give intentional discrimination and reagan administration with a broader counterrevolution against civil rights they tried to preserve that and john roberts young lawyer in a reagan justice department with dozens and dozens of memos trying to limit the effectiveness of the voting rights act, and congress overruled reagan administration and overruled john roberts you have to show the effect of discrimination. and that made voting rights act a lot more powerful going forward. law renewed for another 25 years in 19 82. what happened after '82 is you saw a lot of new people get elected like john lewis, congressman we know from georgia. he was electedded in 1987 after
reauthorization of the vra so a huge explosion in huge minority voting power. and then in 2006, there was again efforts to try to gut section 5 of the act to not renew the vra but reauthorized for another 25 years by a vote of 390 to 33 in the house, and 98 to 0 in the congress so this is something that despite all of the opposition, to the voting rights act it is emerged stronger every time it has been renewed. >> there's an intellectual movement against the vra despite enormous majorities in congress, something was eating away below the surface here wasn't it? >> yeah. yeah, but you're absolutely right. for nixon opposition of the vra was largely political he was trying to court white conservatives so opposed vra out of political expediency but for it when it was passed in '65. i think for ronald reagan this
was the real turning point. reagan was someone who opposed civil rights act opposed voting right and fair housing act on the wrong side of history in all three major pieces of civil rights legislation, in 1960s, and what you see during the reagan administration is a whole new generation of conservative legal scholar he is come of age. people like john roberts are schooled in the kind of conservative movement and key part of this -- emerging conservative legal movement of the federal society is on o decision to the civil rights laws with the 1960s particularly the vra even though reagan administration loses battle with the voting rights act, reagan trains generation of legal scholars who are skeptical of the vra aa points a generation of judges who are skeptical of the var people like william, get put on the bench. what we're seeing today if you look at the a current supreme court, all five conservative justices on the supreme court either worked for reagan or
requester appointed by reagan so you can draw direct line from emerging civil right it is counterrevolution of the 1980s to the supreme court in the congress that question see today. >> so you can also go on direct line to the supreme court we have today and the 2000 election. >> yeah, unfortunately. >> this was an election that those 537 votes in florida, nothing has a ever been more overdetermined than that. you can produce from buchanan butterfly ballot all of that stuff. but one factor that may have been bigger than awflg all of those but not yet discussed that i learned a lot in your book -- was voters repression essentially. what happened? >> so i think many people who i've talked to have already read the book found this to be most infuriating part of all of it. it was the excerpt that i wrote in the nation that was about florida 2000 this remains still relevant today.
basically what florida did in the runup to the 2000 election was they were a massive voter purge and felons couldn't vote and they said that -- >> exfelons couldn't vote, so they -- they made up this purge list with tens of thousands of people they clailged were felons and on the voting rules. they said to county supervisors they have to purge the roles now turned out it was littered with errors only a 70% gnash required between the voter database so your name could be rick hertz burger and you were on this purge list. there was so much inaccurate data and not only that but discriminatory in nature because they were part of the 40 but 44 parts of the purge list. showed up on election day a.m. and told they were labeled as felons an couldn't vote they were disproportionately aron american voters and determined after lech is that 12,000 were
labeledded a felons for margin of victory. i think that set a very bad precedent. civil rights commission looked into this major investigation after the election and they found that this voter purnlg likely violated voting rights act, and this is so significant because -- i think many republicans learned the unfortunate lesson that small manipulation in the electoral process could make a big difference in elections so this led to a new wave of voter suppression also led to george w. bush becoming president and his administration not worked to the area and high threat of voter fraud but name two justices of the supreme court john roberts and sam lido instrument on gutting of the v vra. last thing about florida because i think it is significant if you look at what happened after the 2000 election with the recall, a man by name of ted cruz may be familiar -- was leading bush's recounting. and he was a 29-year-old policy
director for the bush campaign. and one of ted cruz's first calls was to another guy you may have heard of john roberts who he clerked with as a clerk for justice reign who was the most o opponent of the civil rights when he was appointed to the court, and robert and cruz helped helped craft the supreme court arlgt that the bush administration would present from those being countinged. so florida is important because of the precedence it set but because john roberts, ted cruz, jeb bush all of these people are still with us today. these are now leaders of the conservative movement in the republican party. >> who is abigail? why was she a surprising kind of person to find playing the role that she did, and what was that role? >> sure, so -- abigail was a former liberal who became a conservative
intellectual age led the intellectual and neil conservative of the countervoting rights revolution and a so there were places like mississippi, who never were that crazy about civil rights. and then there were people who supported civil right but believed that civil rights movement had lost its way after the 1960s when things leak affirmative action, and busting and quota and trying what became known as majority minority districts they thought that voting rights act and basically argued that it was meant to register voters and wasn't meant to ensure that african-americans or latino or other minorities were historically disenfranchised should be elected. now to many civil rights advocates that's what it was supposed to do. it was supposed to lead to election of president obama and all of these and john lewis and andrew young and people that served, you know, throughout the last 50 years with the station. but the arguments were very influential in new critics
emerging emerge and her critique known as colorblindness this idea that you shouldn't classify based on race which sounds simple and has a intellectual way to it. influenced reagan administration and influenced john roberts, so when scalia makes argument in the 2013 voting rights case that the vra a led to quote unquote perpetuation of racial entitlement a shocking statement, he is sayings in the most blunt ways a version of abigail's critique of the vra. >> that is a surprise. that is a near conservative -- this kind of near conservative and the old reaction converging they're more than one such person. doing damage to the vra.
let's talk a little bit about shelby county versus holder. what was the logic of that, what was the logic the court used for that decision in exactly what did they invalidate? >> so what the supreme court did in this 2013 decision is they struck down the formula that determined which states had to approve their voting changes with the federal government. so especially they said, that yes, you could still theoretically approve voting changes with the truest but no states were covered under it so they took the vra and turned it into a zombie. what john roberts argue ad in his decision and his 5-4 majority decision which was the kulg culmination against the voting rights act is that history changed since 1965, that we had a black president and selma, alabama, but voting rights act had not changed. so they continued to treat the country as if it was 1965 even though history itself had
changed. : >> the past three decades to stop voter id laws and cuts to early voting and voter purges. there was a strange distance because i spent an entire election reporting on voter suppression efforts and heard the chief justice of the supreme court saying everything changed in 1965. i think roberts had one reading of history.
the most generous reading in terms of progress while ignoring all of the disturbing history that emerged in the five decades after. >> host: if your book has a hero i guess it would have to be john lewis. he is a through line in the book there at the beginning and still there. tell us a little bit about that and how you got to know him and what you think about him. >> guest: one of the coolest parts of the book was interviewing civil rights activists from the 1960's, lawyers, politicians, people who have been there all throughout the struggle. i saw bob working for snick in 1 1965 and talking to people like bob was a highlight. and congressman lewis is an
amazing person because so many people went off after the civil rights movement to do other things. but john lewis remained involved in the fight for five decades. he led a group called the voter registration program at a time when no one was doing this work and it was forgotten to keep the movement alive. he was involved in the 1980s when he won election to martin luther king's hometown in atlanta succeeding andrew young who was the first african-american elected in the south since reconstruction and john lewis replaces young in the congress ultimately. when lewis was elected to congress i was shocked to learn this. there were only two african-american members of the congress from the south before lewis was elected. mickey leeland from texas and herald ford senior from
tennessee. there was unbelievable underrepresentation of people. and john lewis became the voice of the congress. what interested me about lewis is here he is five decades after the passage of the voting rights act fighting this fight all over watching the supreme court justice butt his life work and what he died foresee -- for so i wanted to ask lewis how that felt. i wanted to try in the book to obviously talk about the counter revolution to voting rights which i understand is distressing but i wanted to talk about people like john lewis and not just john lewis but so many of the unsung heroes of the voting rights act. we were not a democracy for the voting rights act. for all of the flews as the democracy today and there are
many why far more perfect union because of the law. >> host: what is left of the act now? section five was struck down. can you repeat what you said about section five being shutdown. >> guest: the formula that determined which states were covered was struck down. right now, no states have to approve their voting changes. >> host: is it a rule every state has to approve the voting changes? >> guest: one of the reasons it was upheld as constitutional which challenged so many times was the act it was targeted. john roberts turning it on it's said saying it only iplied to certainly states.
idaho didn't have the same problems as alabama and suggesting it did would be naive. what that decision did was it took away the most important protection the federal government and what we are seeing in the wake of the decision is states that had strict laws that were voted by texas voter id law immediately went into affect a month after the decision north carolina passed a sweeping host of voting restrictions. they cut early voting. they eliminated same-day voter registration. eliminated pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds. something that was pass added a civic procedure. north carolina had very good election laws previously and this one bill repealed all of them almost. texas and north carolina were tribing striking studies of the
fact voter suppression still exist. we saw in the first election post-shelby county was thousands of people were disenfranchised by the laws. we are entering the 2016 election which is the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the voting rights act so i think everyone should be on alert for what could happen in 2016. >> host: is it like getting rid of your umbrella in a rain storm because i am not getting wet. it would be like striking down the drug act because drugs and food is pure these days. we don't need this. but the idea that it was -- was it the 15th amendment -- can you say a little something about the 15th amendment the one that
guarant guaranteed the vote supposedly and its enforcement division was that states would be deprived of congressional representation if they suppress voting. is that something -- is that for a dead clause of the 15th amendment? does that ever come up in any of these cases? >> guest: no, it didn't. i think it might have been section two of the 14th amendment that did that. but people are looking for different ways to try to solve this problem now. if i could just talk a little bit because i know we need to get to questions soon -- >> if you have questions come up and stand at the microphone and we will get to you shortly. >> guest: if i could say a little about the pushback we areege and possible solution do
is the problem -- are seeing -- laws are being challenged in places like texas and north carolina. section two of the voting rights act exist. it is nationwide and relates to all voting changes not just those passed in 1965. the difference with section two and the reason it is hard tho challenge things is the burden of proof is on the playoff. this is a lengthly process and a difficult standard they have oo prove. under section five of the voter rights you have to show a voting change would leave minority voters less off. it is something of a cumbersome provision but we are not using it to challenge laws. an appeal court in texas did strike down this and it isn't
dead. it is weakening, though. there was a new bill called the public voting right act of 2015 and that would restore the requirement that states to to approve the changes with the federal government based on the recent data. and they also said they will look at new forms of discrimination and cover those as well. the last thing i will say in terms of what we could be doing is as more and more states are making it harder to vote others are making it easier. what we are seeing in california and vermont and oregon is there are efforts to try to expand voter participation by doing things like automatic voter registration or where if you have a contact with the dmv or turn 18 just like you are enrolling in a service you are
automatically registered to vote. if we did that nationwide it would lead to 50 million more being registered. ten-day voter registration -- same-day -- where you can register and vote on the same day. 15 states have same-day registration and half of the states in the country have early voting. i think it is unforunate the congress won't take any of this up. on the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act was also the first public debate. on the historic anniversary the moderators never asked the question about the voting rights act and the candidates never bothered to mention it. if we are not going to talk about the voting rights act on the 50th anniversary of the law when are we going to talk about
it. >> host: thank you very much. we are not done. we are not done. we will take some questions. if you would like to say who you are you can. i can see norman is the first one at the mike. >> and because c-span is filming try to keep the question as brief as possible that would be great. >> well, i am the senior member of the editoral board of the nation and i take paternal pride that we produced you. you mentioned the group, including roberts and scalia who produces the counter revolution. we cannot blame it all on sicily. it seems to me you mentioned
abigale, the social scientist and ex-liberal. if you look into her background you may find a certain attachment to another very disappointing revolution from a long time ago. at any rate do you have a picture of the social origins and concerns that produce these people? john robert was an ordinary and very intelligent. how do we take it come to revolution? >> guest: i think people like john roberts were a time of their environment. they came up with the backlash of the laws in the 1960s.
i think the backlash took a few different forms. republicans viewed it as helping democrats and wanted to weaken it for that reason. i think there was an intellectual fight because they believe it should lead to remedies like affirmative action. i think that was part of it. and i also thing that race was an issue here. and i think that state's rights conservative realized people like william who administers literacy test for black and hispanic voters and said brown versus board of education was wrongly decided. you cannot read that and not realize that guy has a race
problem. there was a rebranding into color blind conservative and it was more respectable. nathan glazer. the harvard doctor on color blind was interviewed and i asked if he felt uncomfortable with when the reagan administration used his testing and he said he did. to ignore a point in society with black lives matter and everything going on, ferguson, baltimore, charleston, and realize racism still exist and we have not solve the problem. we need to talk about the fact that race has been an issue for a lot of the people opposed to the vra. >> i am ken. just a reader of the nation. i have a two-part question. first of all, thank you so much. i have not read the book so maybe this is answered in the book.
what is the need for -- how was it written the law would need to be reauthorized so many times and for different periods of time? and the second part is since it did need to be reauthorized and was done well before the 2013 decision, how did the roberts court justify its decision in the face of recent legislative intent. >> guest: johnson had to move quickly. the american public was profoundly outraged by selma and we didn't want another run. they needed to pass the voting right's act. usually the legislation gets water down working through the congresst but this emerged in
tact. the fact they were temporary allowed johnson to get passage for it quickly and the courts were able to vote it constitutional because listen there is a record for this. the congress looks at it. it is interesting the law was drafted to give congress d discretion. it was said the voting rights act, isn't that great? who is going to vote against that and suggested as i mentioned earlier it led to a decision congress would never not vote to reauthorize it. i think it became a reason for the supreme court to gut the five justice thought only they were brave enough to step in.
and anthony kennedy said the marshall plan was good, too, but times change. as if the voting act rebuilt land and seized to exist after that. i think they felt they were doing the heavy lifting congress was unwilling to do. >> i am bob and i have worked with nick and john lewis and work with barber in north carolina now. i want to thank you for this master work. you are a real snick guy. that happens a lot when people -- >> i shall overcome. >> i have a specific question. non-violent direct action is current with the black lives matter movement. ferguson, sharks charleston, and all of that.
we focus on pinch points. what are the pinch points? where would the activist go to make non-violent protest? >> guest: you set me up well. i would urge people to pay attention to what is happening in north carolina why are seeing the most dramatic reinvolnewal e movement. what the north carolina naacp and other groups realized was a month after the supreme court gutted this they had to dramatize to the nation what was happening and to the state and nation in such a way they had to go to the legislature and get it erected because people understood people were getting
arrested for a cause and it was a cause everyone can be behind. there are so many utaattacks on the laws. voting rights connect all of us. people realize if you undermine the right to vote, you undermine the most core ability to do something about the problems they face. martin luther thing said the vote is in the ball game but it gets you into the arena. if you don't have that you don't have the most basic rerequistate for change. people are realizing some of the lessons from the '60s still apply and people are realizing the things we look for granted in the '60s and how important they are, were and how badly they are needed now.
>> hi, my name is scott. brief question. you talked a little bit about a abigale french providing a lot of the argument on my majority/minority districts wasn't the intent. i wonder what you think about the other dynamic that was happening with the bush administration in the early '90s there were they advocating and mote promoting that argument. why is one hand doing this and the other hand doing that if that makes sense? >> guest: this is a complicated issue and one i try to deal with with nuance.
they would put all of the minorities in a district and the surrou surrounding districts become wider and more conservative and more republican. that was a strategy the republican party pursued definitely for political benefit and you could argue it hurt the democratic party and hurt minority political power over time. at the same time, there was a dramatic under representation particularly in the south in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. you had to do something about the problem of representation. you could not be a democracy where so many were left out of elected office. even if there was a political benefit to the republican party for drawing the districts it didn't mean the districts didn't
need to be drawn. we see a lot of high caliber people have emerged from the districts. i think it is com complicated. districts with 55% african-american or latino are now becoming 65% because they are packing more and more voters into fewer districts to increase their political power. i think that is wrong. when i talk to, you know, particularly interesting, african-american politicians in the south they say draw it at 45-50% so we have a chance to be elected but not 60 or 70 percent where our power is weakened. i don't think there is an easy answer to this one. i can some critiques made about the minority and majority
districts might have been valid but i think the broader critique was misplaced because she was hostile. >> i wanted to ask you about mariem berry in washington, d.c. he was a mixed bag if you look at him. depending on your polittle background you might see him as pretty good guy with a few flews. or a pretty bad guy who was good once in a while. but, you know, he is an example of somebody basically elected to tie black voters. what is your take on this?
>> guest: i don't want to not answer a question but it doesn't relate to what i have been covering. >> he is one of the early chairman on the student on violent coordinating committee. he came to washington, d.c. and he wasn't supported by the poor people at all. he was supported by the intelligence but he took policies that built the black middle class and changed the face of washington, d.c. in many ways in favor of poor and working people especially young people and they never forgot that at all. that was high we was finally known as mayor for life. >> host: i want to push you a little more on this question of the majority/minority districts. >> not too much longer, though.
>> we have a couple minutes. >> about five minutes. >> okay. make it quick. all right. it seems windone of the ironic manipulation has been a political polarization worst than existed before. you have a black democratic party and a white republican party and you have the former white moderates outnumbered and unable to swing districts. it actually contributed to this whole extreme right wing takeover with the republican party and that seems like a profound irony. >> i think it is a profound irony. i think two things can be true at the same time. it is true the districts were drawn to benefit the republican party in some ways. they have led to polarization and over time they have become more and more extreme in terms
of the drawing and how republicans dealt with them after the 2010 election where they packed more and more in without needing to do so. you can recognize people like john lewis and like mel wat and terry soul the congress woman from selma they would never have been elected without some of these districts. there were unintended consequences but this voting right act brought representation to congress and elected bodies all across the country and the voting act did this in some c e cases with a lot of spirit and crossed racial alliances and sometimes it didn't happen. sometimes it would be the good guys benefiting and some times the bad guys. >> i think you have the last question. >> i wondered if you have given
any thought how to amend this? in light of the disinfr disinfranchisement of black men and the vast difference between states of what those sentences mean for your ability to become a citizen again. >> i think there is an increasing realization that mass incarceration is a voting rights issue that we disenchan -- di n disinfranchise. i think know sort of racial justice platform has to deal with the problem of mass
incarceration. there is interesting bipartisan movement here. you hear people like rand paul saying we should give voting rights to non-violent ex-offenders. if you are willing to give the right to vote back to people who served their time why are you not willing to protect the right to vote for all americans? so i give those politicians credit for moving on this issue. but i think this is just the first step in terms of a broader restoration of voting rights and protection of voting rights more broadly. >> thank you. [applause]. >> i just want to say i recommend this book very highly. even to someone like me who was playing close attention to the time the book covers. it is through of revelations. if you were not around to experience it i think it will come as an exciting and
extraordinary read. i recommend picking up a copy and give us a balance. >> i think i alluded to a number of high profile people in today's world that make more than cameo appearances throughout the book. the retelling of this story is done so well. it is fascinating and very if engaging and important. we have meaplenty of copies and is happy to sign them. thanks for coming and mope to see you again. >> from politics and pros bookstore in washington, d.c. you can ask berman a question tomorrow he is our guest on washington journal beginning at 7 a.m. on c-span.
with the senate in its august break, we will feature booktv programming nights in prime time on c-span2. kenneth c. davis is up next about his book "the hidden history of america at war" and then glenn beck and his book "it is about islam" and after that "soldier girls: the battles of three women at home and at war" by helen thorpe and later a discussion on nfl football injuries. the book is league of denial. >> this weekend on the c-span networks politics book and history. presidential candidates speak at the des moines register soap box beginning is a saturday at noon. and sunday more live coverage from the fair