Efforts in several states to toughen voter identification requirements are driven by “hatred,” Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday.
Speaking at an evening reception for African-American History Month at the Naval Observatory, Biden spoke at length about the importance of voting rights, and watching the civil rights movement grow up, from the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches to the present day.
“Without the right to vote, nothing else much mattered,” Biden said, calling his votes to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act some of his proudest as a lawmaker.
In 1982, when President Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond backed reauthorization, Biden told the crown he “thought it was done—finally, finally done,” pounding the podium with his fist. But Biden angrily spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn parts of the law, and legislation in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas that toughens voting requirements.
“These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away,” Biden told the crowd of about 150 people, calling the legislation “malarkey.” He added: “The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”
“This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win—not on the margins, but flat out win,” the Vice President said.
In his introductory remarks, Biden recognized Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, joking, ”I told the President, next game, I’ve got him. I may be a white boy, but I can jump.”
Also in attendance were Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, and Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.