By Jordan Fabian - 08/04/15 01:33 PM EDT
Obama to call for Voting Rights Act restoration on law's anniversary
President Obama will call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary Thursday, the White House said.
Obama will hold a teleconference to commemorate the landmark legislation and call for its renewal, following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that voided one of its central provisions.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who rose to prominence in the 1960s as a civil rights leader, will participate.
The event will allow Obama to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans, many of whom argue some provisions of the 1965 law went too far. It will take place on the same day as the first GOP presidential primary debate.
Asked about the timing of the event, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that “one person’s irony is another person’s serendipity.”
“Maybe there will be an opportunity for Republican candidates to discuss the right for every American to cast a vote,” he added.
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a part of the law that required nine Southern states with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal approval before changing their voting laws.
That paved the way for states such as North Carolina and Texas to adopt strict rules requiring voters to bring specific identification to the polls.
Democrats say those laws are meant to discourage minorities from voting, but Republicans say they are intended to cut down on voter fraud.
Democrats in Congress want legislation to provide new voter protections, but GOP leaders have slammed the brakes on new voting rights bills.
Earnest said "the administration is very interested in trying to make some progress" on voting rights, adding that officials have discussed strategy with Democratic lawmakers.