Newspaper clipping headlined, "Governor's Report," April 8, 1982
Newspaper clipping headlined, "Governor's Report," April 8, 1982, from Hebbronville Enterprise concerning the Voting Rights Act and Bill Clements' stance on its possible extension.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Clements, William P., 1917-2011
Reagan, RonaldUnited States. Congress
"Texas Governor Term 1, 1979-1982"
Enterprise (Hebbronville, Tex.)
Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
"William P. Clements Campaign Records, 1977-1989"
Cushing Memorial Library & Archives
Clements Texas Papers
No more important question will come before the U.S. Congress this year than whether to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I fully support extension of the Act in its present form for 10 years. While it has worked well for the last decade in Texas and most past abuses of voting rights have ceased, I have come to the conclusion that its protections are needed for another 10 years. My position is the same as President Reagan's—for continuation of the act as is. I certainly do not advocate weakening it. At the heart of the controversy i revision of Section 2 of VRA to change the current liw from an "intent" test to prove discrimination to an "effects" test. The version passed by the House of Representatives does not require a showing that an individual or community in- tended to discriminate but only that conduct in question had a discriminatory effect. To define a violation on the basis of whether "re- sults" of any election demonstrate a discriminatory effect could make most political subdivisions subject to court challenges on grounds that they have failed to produce proportional representation by race or mem- bership in a language-minority group. Thus, a community with 30 per cent minority popula- tion could be faulted under the House version of the bill if it does not have a matching minority representa- tion on its city council. A violation in the political arena would be decided solely on a statistical analysis—that is, had the election met the "quora." The right to vote is a fundamental constitutional principle which has remained the cornerstone of our democratic system of government. There is no guaran- tee that candidates will be elected because they belong to a particular racial or ethnic group. Those principles were not altered when Congress first enacted VRA with an "intent test!' When the statute was re-enacted in 1970 and 1975, Congress again did not see fit to make the change now proposed in the House bill. Proponents of the House change contend the present intent test makes it "virtually impossible" to prove a violation. I strongly disagree. The intent test has long been the standard of proof for constitutional and statu-II tory violations in the civil rights area, and it has worked po most effectively. That point was underscored by Justice cr DO Stewart in a recent case where the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that Section 2 of VRA has, and has always had, an intent standard. oo 2. To change to an effects test, in Section 2 would invite rN, 4 5 years of unnecessary, coiinplex and disruptive litigation just when the courts had settled most of the difficult questions under present 'statute. It would also leave political subdivisions throughout the country at the mercy of litigation which could result in the restructur- ing of governmental systems simply because they are not designed to produce proportional representation based on race or membership in a language-minority group. I will continue full cooperation with federal authori- ties. Our goal, over the course of the Act's extension period, is to reach a point where all Texans have full confidence that their right to vote is fully protected without need for indefinite federal oversight. If all of us sat down and drafted a voting rights act, there would be as many variations as there are drafts. The message I would emphasize is that the current Voting Rights Act has been good for Texas, and I strongly feel that Congress should expedite passage in its present form. Election year is upon us. Minority groups need to be assured of continued protection. "-1 We must not procrastinate further and spend a lot of time arguing about whether the current act should be made more liberal or more conservative, more restric- tive or less restrictive. We should stop the political bickering and extend the Voting Rights Act as is. OD