WASHINGTON – “It smacks of hypocrisy” that many Republican lawmakers who will attend a historic voting rights commemoration in Alabama this weekend don’t support legislation to update the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday.
The Vermont independent is among nearly 100 lawmakers who will be in Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 voting rights marches there. The marches included Bloody Sunday, when police violently beat peaceful protesters trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way to Montgomery.
Sanders’ Friday-to-Sunday trip, organized by the Faith and Politics Institute, will include stops in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in Selma on Saturday.
“To stand up and say ‘Well, isn’t it wonderful and brave what happened fifty years ago’ while you’re actively participating in voter suppression today is to me extremely hypocritical,” said Sanders, who is expected to announce this month whether he’ll run for president.
The legislation pending in Congress, called the Voting Rights Amendment Act, would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act nullified by the Supreme Court in 2013. That provision had required states with a history of voting-related discrimination to get federal permission, or “pre-clearance,” before making any changes to their election systems.