Calvin Smyre attends meeting with President Obama in White House

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 29, 2013 

Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Columbus Democrat, attended a special meeting with President Obama at the White House Monday afternoon to discuss the recent Supreme Court Ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

The Obama administration announced last week that it will aggressively fight the Supreme Court's recent Shelby County vs. Holder ruling, which strikes down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, in a series of legal cases across the nation.

Smyre was one of four southern state legislators who attended the 45-minute meeting with Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.

Smyre attended along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and National Urban League President Marc Morial among other civil rights leaders.

"I was delighted to be invited," Smyre said. "In the meeting, the president reiterated his support for the Voting Rights Act."

Obama talked about safeguarding every eligible American's right to vote, Smyre said.

The attorney general talked about how the Department of Justice would still be active in elections "when discriminatory practices present themselves." according to Smyre.

"It was a time to listen and learn," Smyre said.

Smyre, who has served four decades in the Georgia General Assembly, has long been a supporter of the Voting Rights Act.

"It has made it easier for people to participate in the political process and has encouraged people to participate," Smyre said

Reed noted the role Atlanta played in the Civil Rights Movement.

"I believe today's conversation and the actions of the Obama Administration to continue to protect voting rights are vital to the health of our democracy," Reed said in a prepared statement. "The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder was stunningly disappointing and opened the door for some lawmakers to begin efforts to disenfranchise voters. Recent actions in Texas and North Carolina to erect barriers to voting shows exactly why the United States Congress has enacted and repeatedly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act since 1965 by wide bipartisan majorities. I support the efforts of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to ensure that the vote of every American is counted regardless of race or ethnicity.”

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