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tv   Eric Holder and Sam Koppelman Our Unfinished March  CSPAN  August 28, 2022 4:59pm-6:06pm EDT

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difficult to place people in these categories and i think for journalists in particular, it should be very hard and i'm glad that it is this is your what seventh book my sixth book. and where can people read you today now that you're no longer with the inner circle. so as you know mentioning big tech censorship by there's a kind of area that meet up a sector of the media ecosystem that's devoted to free speech. and that's where i tend to gravitate to so i do my writing on substack, which is a place to guarantee free speech. i do video journalism on a youtube competitor that's growing rapidly called rumble. obviously. i'm on social media.
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it's just sort of good afternoon and welcome to the national press club for book event featuring former attorney general eric holder and bestselling author sam koppelman. i'm mike balsamo. lee, justice and law enforcement reporter for associated press and national press club secretary. we are looking forward to a robust discussion today and are happy to take your questions as well from the audience. if you have a question please write them on the cards on your seat and you can hand them to kate right there in the back. 2022 may be the year of the gerrymander. states are grappling with population after the 2020 census and that means legislatures are the throes of redrawing election maps. groups on both sides of the aisle have called foul and are
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taking their cases to the courts. judges thrown out, republican drawn redistrict maps in ohio, north carolina and pennsylvania and democratic drawn maps in new york and maryland. republicans have called democrat strategy sue until. it's blue. democrats have called the republican efforts undemocratic, radically motivated. gerrymandering that intends to suppress the votes of minorities and young people. our guests today have been at the center of this battle for voting rights years. as attorney general in the obama administration, eric holder placed voting rights at the top of his agenda and was an outspoken critic voter i.d. laws. now he chairs the national democratic redistricting committee and with bestselling author koppelman, the former director surrogate speechwriting on the biden harris campaign has written our unfinished march, violent past and imperiled future of the vote, a history, a
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crisis. a plan. the book explores the often times history of the vote. its place at the core of democracy and its vulnerability. the voter rights act has been under assault since it signed by lyndon johnson in 1965. with the latest salvo in 2013 with a landmark ruling in shelby v holder that struck down the section of the law that required some jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression to seek approval from the department before enacting changes to existing voter laws and procedures. since many states have passed laws restricting. the vote. we're delighted to have with today both attorney general holder and mr. koppelman to discuss the book and the state of the vote. gentlemen, to the national press club. and with that, attorney general holder, the podium is yours. okay. thank you. thanks, mike. well, good afternoon. it's a it's a pleasure to here.
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and thanks for that kind introduction. thanks for having me. having been to the press club in in quite some time. i'm excited. talk about our new book, our unfinished march, and also to talk about our ongoing and continuing to save our democracy. so let's start. here are our country has achieved i think once inconceivable progress over the course of the life of nation and certainly over the course of the last few decades. we elected the first black president and the first black vice president. we have confirmed the first black woman who will sit on the united states supreme court. i was the first black attorney general of the united. i mean, just one generation after my was told to leave a whites only car while wearing the united states army uniform. during course of world war two, he his was able to serve as attorney general the united states. and that's something that's progress now that's progress that my parents and generations
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before would never have imagined. but we to be extremely clear that progress did not simply. it was won by those who confronted forces of injustice throughout the history of this to make america a better more equal and more fair place. it was built by individuals we talk about in the book who are committed to our highest ideals, and it was achieved as it always has been, in the midst of unrelenting, escalating attempts to fight against and against democratic ideals. you know, for as long as america has existed to opposing forces have clashed over how express and how we can for the rights and privileges of citizenship from the founding to slavery to abolition, from reconstruction to jim crow, those who sought a more nation have been countered by those who were determined to
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gain power at the expense of others, anti-democracy forces use property and, poll taxes and literacy tests, intimidation and outright to achieve their goals. and even after landmark civil rights legislation and rights legislation were signed into law, these forces found ways to undermine and to ignore the freedoms that america promised to all of its citizens. now, i saw these threats up close as attorney general of the united photo id laws aimed at suppressing the votes of young people and people of color. voter roll purges delete millions of eligible eligible voters names impacting minority communities, polling place closures and that vastly increase wait times in minority neighborhoods. gerrymanders designed with surgical precision to dilute and diminish the voting power of black and brown americans. these measures were never
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spontaneous. emotional responses from, dispossessed individuals or sporadic efforts to improve elections. instead, they have been part of a highly strategic, well-funded, campaign fueled by powerful interests committed to gutting our democracy. now, a campaign that has only intensified in years since the day of the last election, lawmakers across country have introduced more than 400 restrictive election bills, 49 states, and passing more than 30 in at least 19 states. our institutions have been wounded, damaged by a president who, spent four years abusing his power and by insurrectionists and their allies who are working to do in state legislatures. they could not do at the capitol on january the sixth. we are facing attack when the right to vote not seen since the jim crow era. and the question is what we do now?
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sam and i wrote this book to answer that question, in particular to you, a sense of our history. to you a sense of the nature. of the problem that we confront today. and also to provide some concrete solutions about what do we do next to provide that larger context for the brutal bloody and at times hopeful history of, the fight to voting rights. we talked about the history to show what it looks like to wage a successful battle for democracy. we talk about certain individuals and elevate them. bring them back into the consciousness of in this country and propose a policy playbook for how can reverse the tides of voter suppression and renew the american experiment. we have specific ideas about things we ought to consider. and a lot people have reacted and said, well, you know, you're talking about things sound too expansive too big for this nation to do. but that's what defines this country at its best when we do big. the great society that was big,
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the new frontier, the ideas that was big, the new deal that was big. eisenhower's attempt success attempt to build the interstate highway system that big. this nation does big. this nation does hard. that is what makes us exceptional. and we need who will think big and then lead this nation in really substantial ways. the playbook that we talk about includes really two vital categories. first, we have to fix our elections through policies that are guided by one key principle, and that is making it easier to vote if the united states is going to be a be a representative democracy, that it needs to represent all of our citizens? and that means all of our citizens need to be able to use their vote, their voice and the way that they their voice is through the vote. no matter who you are, what you look like where you live or how many hours can afford to spend waiting in line. if you are an eligible.
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we must not only allow to vote, we have to make it easy for you to vote. i think about it. that sounds like a pretty sound. like a kind of a no brainer. there are actually people who have said that we should not make it easier to vote. we should make it harder to vote, test people to see whether or not they really want overcome obstacles in order to cast a ballot. every eligible deserves a fair equal and meaningful opportunity to make voice heard. that is what we say our book. second, we need to reform our institutions the bedrock of our democracy. and that's no small task because right now most of our institutions are geared toward maintaining an unjust status. we have an unnecessary and anti-democratic electoral college that reversed the people's vote in percent of presidential elections over the past two decades. we have a stolen supreme court that has gutted landmark civil rights legislation and voting rights legislation with more of our fundamental freedoms hanging
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the balance. that leaked opinion gives us a sense of where this court is about to go. we have a warped senate that concentrates too much power in the hands of an extreme minority of the population. we need to reimagine these institutions so that they live up to their ideals to ensure that every person has a fair say in the direction of our democracy. i mean, even the house of representatives. what the founders envisioned as as the people's house is plagued by gerrymandering that locks extreme politicians in and shuts american voters out. the congressional map is as close, even as it has been in a generation. the maps that we have just just about finished drawing, and yet the number of competitive seats in the united states house of representatives is at a historic low. people of color continue to be denied a fair representation. now, some of the ideas that we lay out in our book may sound, as i said, radical, but i have seen enough as a prosecutor, as a judge, and also as attorney
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general to know that fundamental change is necessary and that fundamental change is possible. i've seen enough not just in my career, but also in my lifetime as a black man in this country to know that change in is possible. and i'm confident that even today we have the power to unleash the promise of our democracy and live up to the values that we all say that we hold dear. and that's what this book is about to show you how we can channel the courage of foot soldiers for democracy who came before us. build that legacy in this new century and take america to the place where we all want it to be. because the truth is that the success or failure of our democracy isn't up to me. it's not up to an attorney general. it's not up to the government. it's up to all of us. every one of us has to stand up for our ideals. every one of us has to speak out for ourselves and also for each other. every one of us must recognize that our obligation to embrace
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our power and act with clarity and purpose, and especially when it's hard, when it seems like it can't be done. that's the way to make change in this country. that's way we have made change in this country in the past. i think this country is up to doing it once again. so want to thank you for inviting us to be here today. and we look forward to with all of you with any questions you might want to ask. thank you, gentlemen. i wanted to start with some some recent news. so yesterday, florida judge struck down parts of governor ron desantis says congressional district map as unconstitutional and all the map dispersed. 600 367,000 excuse me, african-american voters among four different districts, a clear attempt to dilute black voting power and creating a
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majority safe republican, desantis says, is he will appeal. so can you. general give us the your analysis of the situation, florida, which is obviously traditionally been a swing state. yeah, it's an interesting thing. i mean, you have to put this in context, ron desantis said that what the florida legislature was intending to do, the republicans in the florida legislature were intending do. it's a pretty bad gerrymander. didn't go far enough. and so he said i would veto that which the republican legislature was going to do as not going for it. i'm going to veto. and they caved in and passed that which he proposed. judge has now said that given the situation in florida there's an amendment to the florida constitution requires redistricting to be done on a nonpartisan basis. a judge said that what the governor proposed or the legislature put into effect is, in fact, inappropriate. it has a particularly negative
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impact on african-american voters in the, i guess, the northern part of florida. and it is something we've seen republicans do in the present day. i mean, sam can talk, you know, the we describe in the book in north carolina, but it is typical of the problem that we have to call out the typical of the problem that we have to confront. you know too many are afraid of the people they say they want to represent you know, they want to pick their own voters as opposed to letting citizens choose who their representatives ought to be. and i say maybe talk about what happened in north carolina. yeah. i mean, in the book we write about, this student named love cesar, who was at college in north carolina that split the the historically black college in half. and she to her classmates that what they were doing was silencing their voices, erasing the power of their votes. and so she went outside in the middle of the with chalk and drew a line down, the middle of
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campus to show where how their power was being divided, how it was being attacked. and it led to all sorts of outrage. people came together, protested, and with the help of the attorney general organization nerc, those maps ended up being thrown out. it was a moment where republicans folks who drew the maps thought they could get away with silent intentional bureaucratic silencing of votes. and because the people responded, those in power were forced to pay attention. so you can overcome this gerrymandering. and it's not just a situation where it hurts our democracy because it makes it so certain voices have more power than others. the other thing, gerrymandering is it makes districts way less competitive by basically making it. so there's blood elections, people are more worried about than they are about general election. and that's how you end up having bills like the ones that make their way through state legislatures, that ban access to choice because the people who pass them know they're not actually going to be held accountable by the majority.
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is that oppose that kind of legislation. and so the only way you're actually going to get representatives who represent you is by speaking up, speaking out and protesting those kinds of maps and getting them thrown out in the courts. i mean, you look at sort of the radicalization of these state legislatures, the same ones, then suppress the vote to make it harder for you to vote in the future, to make it easier to get gerrymandered in the future and you under this democratic doom where the people who are getting elected by minorities and are passing laws that increase minority rule that make it harder and harder and harder undo that power. it's how you end up with these laws that's you end up with representatives like madison cawthorn ending up in congress truly crazy people who would never otherwise win. and that's the reason that we have to them and lead a real and think the important thing about love cesar you know is that i went down to north carolina and he which is the largest african-american historically black college university in the country. they split that college.
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they split the campus. half the black kids here, the black kids in another congressional district simply to weaken their power, because taken together they were a pretty formidable. so they split them, let's call cracking sometimes you pack people together, but that also shows the power of the individual. you know, this notion that, oh, we can't do this, the are too big know a young african-american woman named love silver caesar with a piece chalk you know drew that line exactly where the line had been by the legislature to demonstrate to the students there and to the larger public what actually was going on we use that data point in our lawsuit and had a judge throw those maps out. you know, the judges, we brought these cases. one of them described what the republicans had done was having drawn discriminatory lines with surgical precision. you know, surgical precision splitting a campus. you know, you wake up in one congressional district in a dorm you go to a class in another
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district. i mean, you think about that. that's what has been done in too many places. but also think about the power of an individual to have an impact in changing that. thank you, general. you wrote in a column for time that the supreme court's mission had been compromised and that the institution is in of reform. you cited specifically, shelby, the case that gutted the voting rights act as the moment made you realize the court was facing a modern day existential crisis. what disturbed you particularly about the shelby? well, first, that my name is on it. you know, it's like you call it right? i call it the shelby county case. i never say county versus my name. i don't want to be associated with that case. i mean, again, we talk about this in the book, you know, that the voting rights of 1965 is the crown jewel of the civil rights. it is the thing that fundamentally politics in this
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nation. you look at the before and after number of african-american represented serves at the state, local and federal level people of color. you see a huge increase huge increase in the number of african-american kids who actually registered to vote. african-american power so long suppressed was unleashed after the voting act of 1965. in the shelby county case chief justice roberts, says that america has changed. all right. and i wouldn't that. i would not dispute that. but he thinks america had in the opinion thought america has changed so much there was no longer a need in essence. i mean there's some go to the particulars. but in essence for an effective voting rights act and as we note in the book you saw not years later weeks but hours later you states around the country putting place voter suppression measures that would have been
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prohibited had the act stayed intact and that has had a negative impact on our democracy from the day of that decision up to the present. i actually think that that's a trio of cases that the supreme court has rendered that will stay in the roberts court. it will not show the roberts court in a good way. citizens united, which allowed the free flow of money. our system. the shelby county case 2013. and then the ruto case. the supreme court says that federal courts should not be involved deciding issues of gerrymandering that. those are political questions. all of this has allowed for anti-democratic, anti-democratic anti-democracy measures being put in place that have a disproportionate impact on on people of color. and you couple that, as we say in the book, with the theft of two supreme court seats, merrick garland never given a hearing, actually never heard many, even many interviews, 200 and
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something days before an election. but it was said that that's too close to the election. and then you go to amy coney barrett and. she's placed on the court while people are voting. so those are two seats that could in the hands of democratically appointed would have been made by democrat be elected by democrats and that would have had a negative that would have a fundamental fundamentally different impact on a whole range of issues had garland been on the court. we would have had a54 progressive court for about two three years and a whole number of decisions, including the shelby county case, might have been decided differently. the other reason that the shelby county decision was outrageous is congress had reauthorized the voting rights act three different times signed. each by republican presidents. the last time in 26 signed by george w after a 98 to 0 vote in the senate. together the likes of addison mcconnell and hillary clinton. they both voted for it. and so it was a clear popular
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mandate based on that same evidence, 15,000 pages of evidence. the supreme looked and said, we think america has changed. we're not sure whether there's going to be a new wave of voter suppression. and then what the justice ruth bader ginsburg wrote in the dissent was saying, we don't need preclearance because there's not voter suppression. right. is like being in the middle of a rainstorm, having an umbrella and throwing it out because you're not getting wet. she understood that the reason that america had changed, the reason there had been progress there is that our democracy had become a democracy it was because of the voting rights act and the supreme court decided to test it. and it's not like it was some kind of a mystery, literally the next week, that day, greg abbott tweeted, like attorney general eric holder, basically like, ha ha, i'm going to go pass this bill. and then they just passed those bills and then methodically, surgically unwound all of the progress made over decades. and the supreme court hasn't gone back and admitted they were wrong. in fact, congress has not even gone and reauthorized the voting rights act in a new way with a new coverage formula.
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and so we're without the protections and with the same insidious intent on behalf of republicans, as we have in our country and our democracy in complete shambles. yeah. and you had the voting rights act been in effect, a whole number of things might not have. the use of these unnecessary photo id laws that you have to show in some states in order to vote probably would not have been allowed by the justice if it had an intact voting rights act that of polling places of almost 18 polling places around the country. disproportion innately in those places that were once by the voting rights act would, probably not have been allowed. i mean, there's a whole range of things and these have real impacts, real impacts. and you have to understand in this era of close elections, if you shave one, two percentage points off of, say, the african-american vote, the perceived democratic vote, that can have really dramatic impact on the outcome on the outcome of elections. and one of the statistics, amy, we talk about how long it takes
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to vote in atlanta. that number that we had that we found in. yeah, it was something like i forget the exact number. but if you remember in the 2020 election, presidential, if you came to atlanta, a polling place, 6 p.m., same day on election day and you were in an african american precinct, it took you 51 minutes to vote on average, if you were in a white precinct, atlanta, same day, same election, it took you 6 minutes to vote. you. and so that has a real impact that has a real impact. and so you wonder, well, why did it why did the folks in, georgia, pass this law that says you can't give food and water to people who waiting wait in line because they knew -- well that the people who had to wait in line were people of color in and they want to make it as difficult as is possible for people to simply get to the polls. and i want to follow up on a point that you made. the shelby county decision severely curtails the ability of
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the justice department to bring voting rights matters, but the still has some role. can you talk a little bit about the power that the department still has in ensuring people's right to vote across the country? you watch the supreme. section two still remains. that deals with the whole question of white vote dilution, whether or not power is can be exercised by by communities various communities. we won a case that is the national democratic redistricting committee won a case in alabama with. two trump judges two appointed trump judges who said, you know what? given the size of the african-american in alabama, there should be a greater opportunity for community to elect another congressman or congressperson of their of their choice. and throughout the maps throughout the maps that have been recently drawn by the republican dominated legislature, this this year, the united states supreme court said, well, too, to the election to host the election, we're going to not allow that change
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to occur, that redraw to occur, vote on the maps that were put in by the republican legislature, which a federal court right to federal courts actually to be inappropriate. so the votes will happen in alabama this year as a result of the supreme court's action. are going to be those elections will take place on these already found to be maps. and here's my prediction section two this alabama will get to the supreme court and this radicalized supreme court will do to section two. i what it did to the other components of the voting act which could render the voting rights act of 1965 almost another. now it not happen. and maybe i'm, you know, a doomsayer, but based on the in which this court has dealt with election related issues and we talk about the young chief justice, john roberts, and what he did when. he was an attorney, fdr, at justice department, opposing you
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know a specific remedial measure there. when the act was threatened a long time ago. but given given his his history, given the other five justices who constitute that conservative portion of the court, section two is at risk as well, you've suggested term limits for supreme court justices in the past. can you explain your thinking there? yeah. i mean, this is, as we know in the book, where chief justice roberts and former attorney general holder are on the same. he said a speech that we quote pretty that supreme court justices should serve 15 years. i say 18 years are we go on to say that presidents should appoint supreme court justices a justice in the first year of his or her term and in the third year of his or her term and. that way you have new people coming on to the court, new blood coming on to the court and
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if you do an 18 year term, it would ultimately reduce the size of the court back down to nine. i also think we need to expand the court given. the fact that those two seats were stolen in the that the way that i describe. i think that you want to have term limits because you point people now to the supreme court at 50 or so i guess the judge in florida who a good judge might as well whatever he rendered an important decision just a little while ago she's 33 years old, right? 33 years old. never tried a case. we haven't gone that far yet in the supreme court. but you can serve on the court now for 30 years, perhaps 40 years. that's too long for somebody to be in a position of power, in an unelected position of power, to have an impact on the direction of the nation. and so i so i think, you know, just all the other reasons why a limit of 18 years makes a great deal of sense and. two things have also changed since our founding. so one is life expectancy, which
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has radically increased, obviously. so instead of supreme court justices serving ten, 15, 20 years, they sort of decades and decades and decades, this means that they're able strategically retire, often, so they'll intentionally retire when someone with their same ideology as president, they used often just die in office. and so there would be some stochastic data who ended up getting to appoint them. now they're pretty intentional about it and so they're able to their own partisanship in that process. it also means that the stakes of each supreme court fight in the senate are existential and so you end up having these total wars each time someone is appointed which diminishes trust in the court as an institution. and so if you made this process more standardized, less arbitrary, you made it so every president just appointed two justices as each term you made it so that each served 18 years. and by the way, the long term effect of this in the short term would increase the number of justices, but eventually if you do the math, i don't know. i trusted his math. gets back to nine justices. i think. and so then you end up having a
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similar court. but it has legitimacy in the eyes of the people it's better for the supreme court justices who get to focus on actually ruling their cases instead of trying to politically time their retirements. and it's obviously better for the american people who once, again, can have trust in the highest court in the. and so it's a pretty no brainer situation at different points. parties have been in favor of these reforms. it's just a question of actually doing it. 70% of americans are in favor of term limits for supreme court justices. even now when it would have, you know, advantage for republicans to leave the status quo in place. so it's a no brainer. it just has to happen on the legislative front. what do you see as obstacles to getting voting rights legislation through congress and how do you go about then protecting voting rights in this country? well, mean, i think the problem with getting voting rights legislation through both at the federal level and at the state level is, that in a lot of it's all this is all about power. this is all about power. who has who's willing to give up power. and so to to a republican
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dominated legislature and say, we need we need to put reforms in place. it's probably to decrease your power. you know, the prime directive for politicians is to get reelected. so there's a problem there and to be fair, if you go to a you know a blue state and say to democratic, democratic controlled state legislature, we want you to put in place measures that will decrease your power. you know, they back on that as well. you know, at the federal level with the thin majority that the the democrats have, we were unable to pass legislation that would have ameliorated a lot of the things that we talk about in the. it was a disappointing thing to two democratic senators not think that the filibuster or not think that you know voting rights legislation was more important than the preservation of the filibuster and senators you know cinema and i think you know deserve, some criticism there. but i think people getting a
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pass here are those 50 republicans who voted as a bloc to say we're not going to be in favor of making changes that will make nation more pro democracy. and we want maintain a status where we have, you know, gerrymandering deciding too often, you know, who controls the united states of house, house of representatives or what the margins are. i mean, democrats won about 5 million more votes than in the last election for the united states house of representatives that have a margin of about five or six seats. i don't know, after the last redistricting democrats won 1.4 million more voters in 2012, 1.4 million more votes than than republicans had. we're in a 33 seat deficit, even though they got more votes, that kind of stuff. as sam was saying, that kind gerrymandering leads inaction because you're what concerned
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about more is a primary than a general. you don't want to be seen as cooperate with your with people on opposing party because that's seen as a sign of weakness and invites a primary challenge a challenger it results in nothing being done which then results in cynicism. in the american people for you know, we see obvious problems, see obvious solutions. we see support for those solutions. and then nothing ever happens. you know, nothing ever happens. and that is why people have such a low regard for our governmental system. you know, now and, you know, the senate is built to be and doesn't represent the american in the slightest. i mean, right now. there's 50 democrats and 50 republicans in the senate. democrats won 40 million more votes for the same of seats. and that's just fundamentally to anyone who understands anything about democracy, undemocratic. and this is the of the senate, obviously, the great compromise constitution or convention. but at that time, the state with the most number of people had
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eight times more than the people in the state with the least number of people. now it's like 60. so if you're someone in north dakota or wyoming, or one of these other small states, you're like 60 times more of a say what happens in the senate than if you were from california. and so you look at that and you wonder like, why on do these things that the majority of americans not become laws? and it's because fundamentally that's not how the institution is designed and those who are in power don't want to change it definitionally. and so it's about actually taking risks and first getting rid of the filibuster, which this that's mind boggling. so if 40 senators from the least populous states decided to hold up a bill by 59 other senators or 60 other senators, they could be 18% of the population. so you could have a situation where 82% of the public is in support of something and 18% is able to stop it from happening. so you've got to get rid of the filibuster first and foremost, but then you got to make d.c. and puerto rico states, you've got to do all of the work of making the senate and actually
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representative institution because otherwise we're obviously going to be playing from behind and having to make all sorts of compromises because we're dealing with an institution that's just fundamentally not aligned with the values of democracy. yeah, that's not likely to change. i mean, the structure of the senate is not likely to change would require a constitution final amendment that will never pass. that's just not going up. not going to pass. it is part of great compromise. and we are we have the senate as it is our proposal that you admit washington dc and puerto rico as states washington, d.c. has a greater population than two states. puerto rico, i think, has a greater population of 21 states. you know, i'm a resident of, washington, d.c., i pay federal taxes. we, our sons and daughters off to war. we're good citizens. and yet do not have representation in congress. and so that's at least one of the ways in which we think you could rebalance the senate, though, i have to say, you know, everybody just assumes well, you know, puerto rico, washington, d.c., they will automatically send democratic democrats to the
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senate as. not necessarily true. certainly in puerto rico, where on a island basis, republicans have won and republicans have won. here in washington d.c. as as well. but at least that's an opportunity. it's a possibility of doing something with the senate that is probably pretty impermeable to chance to change in a highly country. how how do you convince people who are not imperiled by to care about voting rights or those who have the most to lose from fairer voting rights to take care. i, i think it requires leadership and talking about these issues, i mean, there's a great many things that the american people have to have to deal with in 24 seven news cycle. we're concerned about, you know, prison guards helping, you know somebody escape or, you know, having romantic relationships. i mean, you know, okay. well, whatever. there's a whole range of issues that get thrown us and we don't
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devote nearly enough time to, i think that which maybe matters the most. that's the state of our democracy we need to talk about it more. our leaders need to put issues front and center. you know, as a as a proud democrat, i think that's one of the issues we should be running on. you know, certainly the let's talk about the progress the biden administration made in dealing the pandemic, bringing economy back. but let's also run on democracy. let's run on democracy. you know, where you all where does where do you stand on on partisan gerrymandering, you know. yeah. know people's eyes glaze jeremy and eric. what are you talking about? well, if you care about a woman's right to choose or if you care about criminal justice reform, if you care about climate if you care about election protection, all of that stuff is directly related. as sam said before, to to gerrymander, you know, and so educate the american people about these these pro-democracy
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issues, i actually think they are winning. i think the american people are ready for the kind of change that we talk about in the book. i think there has been a failure in this country by those who have led us to ask the american people to face some tough issues and be prepared to come up with some hard answers. i think i think we have it within us to do the kinds of things if if we can put them before you, before the american people. and, you know, the question of how do you get people to care? this has been question since the very beginning of the voting rights struggle. and the answer is that you have to make them care like those in power have never wanted to relinquish the monopoly on power that they have. and then, you know, in rhode island, where white men couldn't vote at the end of the 19th century, thomas dorr, seth luther, they led this rebellion they were literally bombing the capital for voting rights. doris family was there. i'm not saying we're not we're
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not we're not selling the government capital. that's the other side. but what then happens is you then look at, you know, in reconstruction civil rights movement, women's suffrage movement. you know, we had alice paul outside the white house every single day protesting, gets arrested for protesting, then refuses eat, has to be fed through a feeding tube prison for women's right to have a vote. and then you look at the civil rights movement. obviously, everyone knows struggle and resistance that went into that. but it's not like this is something that's ever come easily. those in power have always wanted to maintain it and we actually have more a voice now we have a vote. now we have resources now than we've ever had before. lead this fight. so, i mean you know, as much as anyone, some days i want to resort to pessimism and just throw the towel. but if you look at the history of this, we are the best equipped of any of those people to actually realize the promise of our democracy. and so it's just a question of whether we'll have that will, whether we'll still fight like those past generations have fought, imperfect as they were, methods suspect as their methods were. we need actually take that same
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urgency and go campaign on it in the way that they have with real resistance, because obviously power begets power and it's nothing without a demand, as frederick douglass said. and is an issue that we've confronted as a nation since we were a nation. i mean, talk about what happened in rhode island, as sam was saying, white men property could not vote indoors. and you, seth luther lay, said, no, that's just wrong. and so again, they resorted to the bombing and all that so but ultimately you white men without property had the right vote. women were denied the right to vote. that change didn't happen because it was time. it happened because people like alice, paul, ida b wells, you know, decided that they're going to do something to make sure that this happens. there was a march in in 1913 where women marched for the right to vote. they were beaten here in washington, d.c. they were for trying to protest, for those
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rights. you know our our system of political apartheid end because its time was up it was because people like dr. luther king those civil rights workers, chaney, schwerner and, goodman, you know in mississippi gave lives. other people, you know, sacrifice. we talk about, you know, kage lee lee jackson. i mean, people, you know, in the south who sacrificed medgar evers. you know, you think about all these people and what they faced to make the progress that we now enjoy. and so your question is good one, are we willing to make the sacrifices that they did? we will not face what medgar evers face. you know, there are going to be people shooting you. you don't have to put your life on the line there. crazies out there. but, you know, the stakes are not as high. the physical stakes are not as high. the stakes for our democracy are just as great now as they were back then. that's why i think leadership
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and the involvement of the american people, the history that we outline shows if you get a committed american citizenry, you can make fundamental change. and so anybody who tells you that, you know, sam and, eric, they just did just wrong. none of this stuff can that's wrong. if we work hard enough for if we commit ourselves to it, the kinds of changes that we're talking about are indeed possible. you both have mentioned this case. so one of the most watched pending redistricting cases now is castor v mayoral out of alabama. the case involving obviously a claim that a new congressional district map approved by the legislature unlawfully dilutes the voting power of. the state's black communities, the supreme has agreed to hear that case next fall, but in the meantime, is allowing the state to hold the 2022 election using the map that's being challenged in that suit. general, you've that an ideological abuse of the power. can you bring us up to on that case which many the room may not have heard of and explain why
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you think the high got this wrong? well, as i said before, so i'd be pretty brief, you know, alabama's black population, i think 24, 27%, if you look at the number of congressmen they have and figure out, well, you know, who or have the ability to choose their represent is. and you can the way in which the lines drawn, african-americans are packed in such a way that all the power that african-americans have can be expressed that one district. but if you geographic just kind of draw the lines in a in sane way you'd end up with probably african-american districts or two districts where an african-american would be likely to win again. he brought this lawsuit in alabama and we won before a single judge and then we also won before a special court that was comprised of three judges, two of whom, again, had been appointed by president trump. those four judges all said, you know, yeah, that makes a good
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point, that the lines that were drawn have been done so inappropriately. the supreme court simply had to let there was plenty time there was plenty of time to redraw the lines. you know, redrawing the lines after you've a whole number of maps, you know, proposed doesn't take an awful long time. and so could have redrawn the lines redone ballots and done the primaries and everything like that supreme court steps in and says, no, too close to the election. really? okay. so as i said, what you're going to do in alabama is have an election on maps that for judges have said are unconstitutional and that are going to deprive african-americans their ability to really exercise their power. and as i said the thing that concerns me is they're going to use this as a vehicle to get at section two, which is the basis, the lawsuit. they're going to say that section two is a race driven component of the voting rights act of 1965. in fact, you know, ron has already kind of stumbled into that and in a way that only he
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can even really know what he's talking about. and i think the court is likely to use this case as a way to get at section two of the act as well. and just to follow up on that, in light, last last week's leak of the preliminary vote, preliminary opinion in roe, that ultimately, you know, could strike down roe v wade. do you see the alabama case as another piece of evidence suggesting this newer conservative leaning supreme court may peel away more perceived and presumed civil rights one after another? sure. i mean, i think if you i don't think we're going to see that opinion, the language of that opinion survive. i mean it's caustic. it's overheated, it's unnecessary it's you know, it's it doesn't hold up logically or legally. but but i think you're more likely than not to see the overall decision, which is to overrule roe versus wade,
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survive in the way they do. that is, to say that, you know, the attack the right to privacy, you know, right now, justice alito then says what? we're doing this to roe versus wade we're not doing this to a whole bunch of other places, other, you know, rights that the american people have. but once you've done it, once you've done it, the genie is out the bottle, you know, and so, you know same sex marriage, contraception and you're already starting see this in some state legislatures you know talking about well you know we ought to be able to legislate whether or not unmarried have the ability to make you use contraceptives. you think about this stuff, you know. the possibility of interracial marriage. again, that's all based on the notion of the right to privacy individuals, have the right to privacy. the government should not, you know, should not interfere this decision, which i think, as i said, is to occur, will have
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huge collateral impact on a whole range of a whole range of rights, not all of which will be expressed by the federal government, but in these gerrymandered state legislatures now, now free of, you know, having a weakened right to privacy, will do a whole range of as things that not be supported by. the majority of the people in those states. but because you've got gerrymandered state legislatures, they will try to put them into effect. and i don't remember exactly what the state would say was, but i read about it. i have one in mind, but i don't want to say the state because i don't want to cast aspersions on it in inaccurate way, but i know that is already conversation about dealing with the notion of contraception in unmarried couples and you think about that, i mean that is this where, you know, is this where we are potentially potentially going claims of a voter fraud in a rigged 20 election, obviously disputed by dozens of judges, election officials, president
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trump's former attorney general have shaken voter confidence. nevertheless, this could influence the perception, our voting system for years and election cycles to come. what do you suggest? state and federal government officials do to boost in our democracy? well, you know, i think, you know, i assume we have lots of people in the media here. one of the things we have to do is that the media and i'm not being critical yet, but the media needs to call out all of these inaccuracies. the notion that the election that we just held in the presidential election in 2020 was in any ways rigged inaccurate, false, tampered is nonsense. it's just nonsense. you know, i think it's the responsibility of the press know when if i you know, it's raining outside and my republican colleagues says it's not raining outside, the media shouldn't report. well, democrats said it was raining. the republicans, it wasn't
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raining. the media ought tell us, was it raining outside? and so there needs to be an analysis or analysis done. and it's done. you know, i think in a lot of ways, in a lot of media circles. but that any time there is a report or a clean by somebody about what happened in the 2020 election. there has to be a factual rejoinder to it. so i think where we have to start then. yeah i think we have to get in touch with the american people through the process and, push back against what republicans to republicans are are saying about what happened in 2020, in 2020, and then using what happened or did not happen in 2020 as a basis for further voter restrictions. i, you know, texas maybe the hardest in which to vote. georgia, a real hard state to vote. they weren't satisfied with what
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happened in 2020. texas republicans pretty well in texas, democrats did pretty well in georgia they've introduced more restrict since after the election in 2020, all based on the notion, this fanciful notion that there was, you know, widespread voter fraud, of which is absolutely no statistical proof zero, nada, zero. it does not exist. and we have to keep saying that. and sam, you talked a little bit about this earlier, but if we don't make progress on voting rights in the united states, what difference do you think makes in this country. 50 or 100 years from now? right. i mean, if pretended to know what's going on in 50 or 100 years, that would be a sign of worse things for me. but i mean, i think fundamentally, if you look the margins that these elections are decided by as the attorney general said, if have had 3% lower african-american turnout in in 2020, the election gets
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flipped. so you look at how tight margins are and what we're relying on. so even these small attempts to suppress the vote at the margins make massive differences. i mean so much of the country future hinged on the thousand decision and bush v gore which was an election decided a few hundred votes that there were many more voters from the rolls. in fact in accurately than the margin of the election. so that's an example where literally the entire last 25 years of our country's existence might have been completely different had there not been voter purges. and since this stuff has all been in complete overdrive. but, you know, to get to that question about like, how do we restore faith in i mean, it's kind of like, you know, republicans ask it's kind of like an arsonist guy who burns down your home being, all right, how are we going to improve home fire safety like the republicans are trying to solve a problem that they created and then the media ask questions like how do we go about restoring faith in the election? it's like, i don't know, maybe
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if republicans didn't work specifically tension lead methodically to destroy trust in elections and maybe if it weren't framed as democrats and republicans dispute whether you know it's raining outside, maybe then we wouldn't need to with this problem in the first place. and so i think putting the onus on the folks who are accurately describing the state of our democracy, which that we do have fair elections, which that you're likely to be struck by lightning, really doing a lot of metaphors, having to do with whether they are more likely to be struck with by lightning, but show up in person and commit voter fraud. like if you actually like look at the situation on the ground like the folks who are telling the truth shouldn't be the ones who have to prove to the country that this thing above board and i think that that's a fundamental demonstration of how our democracy is falling apart while everyone sort of shrugs and says, what can we possibly do about it? yeah, you know, we talked about this in the writing, the book, you know, the big lie. that's what this is. it's it's the big and it's had its desired impact.
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and, you know we talked about the origins supposedly of the big lie happened in a european country in the in the 20th century thing or how far we how far do we go with this? because you never want to compare anybody or anything in this country with the german in the 20th century. and yet you that notion of the big lie and what joseph goebbels said about you know how the impact the big lie is something that we have to counteract. and we got to understand also, you know lincoln said you can fool some of the people all of the time. all right. and that's going to happen. you know, i read one study, 20% of the people think that the moon landing didn't occur. all right. you know, there's a certain number of people we're not going to there's a whole bunch of people who, if confronted facts consistently confronted with facts, will, you know, change, change their minds. but it's going to take it's going to take a process and when
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you've got a news channel, you know, fox news that really kind of spouts a lot of this stuff. and then a lot of people are using as the sole place from which they get their news. you know, that's a problem that we didn't have to confront, say, during the watergate years. i mean, i really wonder, you know, given what nixon did far less serious than trump and his cohorts with regard to trying to stop the transition of power. if fox existed during the watergate years, i wonder whether or not he would have been able whether he'd been forced resign? yeah, i'm really not sure. and by the way, if fox media characterized voter fraud the way you did as disputed by judges, federal, local, over and over and over again, disputed by his own attorney general, i think our country would be in a radically place. and the fact that it's never caveated that way in most settings is, i think, a huge to our democracy and to the people who deserve to have real information to, make as the basis of the choices that they make at polls.
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so, general, this afternoon, the six committee subpoenaed kevin mccarthy, andy biggs, several other republicans. do you believe that they should cooperate with the committee's inquiry and if they don't, do you believe the department has a role in criminal charges for for contempt or failing to cooperate that inquiry? yeah, i think the house conducted the committee conducted itself in an appropriate way they sought voluntary co-ops. narration um, basically you know, got the heisman. they said, no we're not going to interact with you. and i think that they did the necessary was, which was to issue these subpoenas. now this has happened before, as i understand it, house ethics committee has has done this before. so there is some for it. i'm sure that this will end up in a lawsuit of some sort. my hope would that the court here in the district of columbia that hears the case will do so on an expedited basis and so that we actually hear from the
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people who have who have been subpoenaed. but i think the question that the american people to ask themselves of the i don't five or six people who are who are subpoenaed why aren't you talking to the january six committee? what are you trying to hide? you know, kevin mccarthy, you said an awful lot of stuff. you talked a lot smack, you know, immediately after the election that you seem to have changed. you took the trip down to mar a lago well, you know what? what's the truth? held president trump accountable. what happened on january the six? or you're saying this is something was overblown and these were just peaceful protesters? why are you afraid of talking to the january sixth committee? why you afraid to talk to the american people about and the same thing, what i ask of all the other people who have been who have subpoenaed and for those people who are going to be voting in those in november, that would be for me a really important thing.
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why my congressman cooperating with the january committee, what is my congressman have to hide? what is my congressman want to share? what is my congressman afraid of? so, you know, we'll see what happens and just before we conclude, because we're getting to time here and get to the final question, let me just take a moment to think. headliners, co team leaders. donna, line one, laissé and lori russo. well, as club membership director kate elster and club executive director bill mccarron, i'd also obviously like to thank general holder and mr. koppelman for being us here today and present you both with these press club mugs as an appreciation for your time. and with that, let's get to the question. another one from the audience. are you disheartened by, the slow pace in which the department of justice has been handling referrals from the house committee investigating the january 6th insurrection? and if you were attorney general
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now, would you be pursuing these referrals for criminal act with greater speed than general garland? you know, i don't i don't have insight into. all that's happening in the justice department. but i think it's pretty significant. you know, they move pretty quickly on on banning meadows. nothing's going on there in for an extended period of time. i have great trust in general. garland, deputy general lisa monaco, the associate general vanita gupta. there's something going there, you know, that's not inattention or lack of guts. there's something going on with regard to their failure to do something in that regard. i don't know all that the justice department or is not doing with regard to the january the sixth investigation. but again, i have faith in their abilities. the attorney general, having served is in a tough position
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because the tradition of the justice department is you don't talk about ongoing investigations and the law says that you cannot about grand jury investigate. those have to be done in. so we don't know all that the justice department is doing. now, having said that, i do that there is an educational component that the department has a responsibility do. it would not be a good thing. the attorney general, to walk up to the seventh floor as where the press conferences in the justice department go up to seventh floor. the justice department and announce the case of the united states versus donald trump. and just bring that on the nation. that would you there needs to be some way to let american people know what the department is about how the investigation to the extent that it's going is and there are ways in which it it can be done. and so i think that's a place where if i were giving some advice and i'm sure i guess the reading this, if i was giving
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some advice to the department, i would say that maybe they could do things in a little in a little different way. but i really want to kind of defend them. you know, there's a lot of criticism of the department, all of will be forgotten if you know, indictments are returned, no one will remember the fact that they got excoriated over the course of, you know, some number of months. they indict a few people or the ultimate person that will all be forgotten. but i think they're doing things, you know, in the right way. and it also point to what the attorney general said in his speech, i guess, on january the sixth, which is they would hold or people accountable at level at any level. you know, i know merrick garland. he's a judge. he's a precision ist when it comes to language. and i know that speech was vetted, you know, in a whole of ways. and for him to say at any level is something that is extremely so, i think, you know, let's off on criticizing doj and let's see
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what they ultimately do. gentlemen, thank you so much for for being here and thanks all you for for attending as well. thank you. thank
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and now on book tv, we want to introduce you to scott horton. mr. horton, what do you do for a living? i'm the director of the libertarian institute. and what is happening? well, got a great group of guys that in girls that write articles and do podcasts and we publish, too. and what's the general philosophy of your podcast and articles? well, we're individualists, libertarians, anti-government types and with a special emphasis on foreign policy. but we cover a broad of issues there. now, you've also hosted antiwar radio. what is it? that's a show i host on kpfk 90.7 f.m. in los angeles, the pacifica affiliate there. '


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