(House of Representatives - February 14, 2013)

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[Page H513]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Veasey) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. VEASEY. As oral arguments are being prepared for the February 27 
U.S. Supreme Court hearing in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, 
which challenges the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting 
Rights Act, I stand here today in strong support of upholding section 5 
as evidence of its current critical necessity. In my home State of 
Texas, the need for section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is playing out 
in a very dramatic fashion.
  I'm a plaintiff in the ongoing litigation involving the 2011 Texas 
redistricting case, Quesada v. The State of Texas. I can personally 
attest and flatly state that overt and deliberate racial discrimination 
is still used by leaders in Texas today. I wish that statement were 
untrue or out of date. It would be wonderful to say that we have 
progressed past the need for protection under section 5 of the Voting 
Rights Act. Sadly, this is not the case. Section 5 protects minorities 
from racial discriminatory voter ID laws, voter suppression tactics, 
and discriminatory redistricting plans. These protections are needed 
now as much as ever.
  In 2011, just 2 years ago, a map was drawn by the Texas Legislature 
that didn't merely affect the politics of our State. Overt racial 
discriminatory tactics were used to isolate and suppress hundreds of 
thousands of minorities for the purpose of political gain by current 
partisan leaders of my State. Latino and African American citizens in 
the State of Texas suffered the most aggressive and deliberate 
discriminatory blows to our constitutional rights to fairly participate 
in elections.
  Cold and heartless tactics were used that should be simply relics of 
the past--relics like ``packing'' millions of minority voters together 
into as few districts as people to dilute the impact of their vote by 
``cracking'' the remaining voters to ensure that their vote has no 
impact at all. Minorities were packed precinct by precinct and block by 
block in order to contain the impact of their growing population. And 
yet here we are today, fighting to uphold section 5.
  The right to vote and the right for one's voice to be heard through 
elected representation is a legally enacted and constitutional right 
that many have bled and died for. Yet we are still fighting for this 
very right. Some say its time to move on. But, my dear friends, we must 
never move on while these rights are not just at risk but under attack. 
And when I detail the discrimination contained within the redistricting 
process, no one should think I'm acting as a partisan Democrat. The 
three-judge panel in Federal court that heard the evidence, questioned 
the witnesses, and delivered the opinion of the Texas redistricting 
case consisted of two judges appointed by Republican Presidents and one 
judge appointed by a Democratic President. Their finding of intentional 
discrimination was unanimous. They could not have made their views any 
clearer, stating:

       The parties have provided more evidence of discriminatory 
     intent than we have space or need to address here.

  This was not a case heard 30 years ago, or even 10 or 5 years ago. 
The decision was released just last August, barely 6 months ago.
  Lastly, those who tell you that there is no recourse for States that 
no longer discriminate are, at best, dangerously mistaken. The Voting 
Rights Act contains provisions for States that have over the years 
exhibited that they are no longer in need of pre-clearance. States can 
submit evidence to the Department of Justice or the D.C. District Court 
that they are no longer using racial discriminatory redistricting 
tactics and apply for a way out of section 5. As a matter of fact, 
since 2009, more States than ever before in the history of the Voting 
Rights Act have been granted the right out.
  So why are we challenging the constitutionality of a law that is 
protecting its citizens from racial discrimination when there is, in 
fact, recourse? I will tell you the sad truth is because, 
unfortunately, in States like Texas, where the minority population is 
growing very rapidly and their voting strength is increasing, rather 
than work to earn the vote of minority citizens, State leaders would 
rather suppress voters through racially discriminatory tactics.
  My friends, our country is better than this. We are better than this. 
That's why we are here today in support of upholding section 5 of the 
Voting Rights Act.