Kudos To Jeff Sessions
You know this had to drive him nuts:
A 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act neared final approval Wednesday after a Senate committee, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., voiced unanimous support for renewing the historic civil rights law without major changes. . .
Once a leading advocate for expanding the 1965 law beyond the South, Sessions had backed off by Wednesday. Nor did he try to make it easier for states or cities with no recent record of discrimination to be exempt from federal oversight, another of his earlier concerns.
“Many of my citizens put their lives at risk to pass the Voting Rights Act,” Sessions said. “It took a lot of courage and determination and leadership so I’m inclined to think this is something my constituents, African-Americans, whites and all constituents, want to see done in a friendly and effective way. They just don’t want to have a fight over this.” . . .
Sessions said he didn’t want anyone to interpret calls for the law to be updated as an attack on the right of blacks to vote.
“I hope the African-American community in Alabama sees this as further affirmation of their guarantee of the right to vote, although there are some areas of the country that have far more problems than we have,” Sessions said.
Whether his motives were base – a desire to avoid spending political resources on a futile battle, or pure – he actually recognizes the VRA’s merits, I don’t know. But he did the right thing.
And I agree with him that extending the act is not a bad idea. Unfortunately, thus far geographical extension has been pushed more as a poison pill for renewing the current VRA than as a real issue. Now that the VRA will pass, maybe Congress can take the time to honestly and rationally debate whether to extend the VRA to other areas of the country.