Mar 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Warnock says Biden's stance on voting rights reminds him of Lyndon Johnson

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Biden's sense of urgency on voting rights reminds him of his predecessor Lyndon B. Johnson, who sat in the office during some of the most tumultuous points of the civil rights era.

Why it matters: Warnock's comments come days after the state passed a GOP-lead overhaul of its election laws last Thursday. Voting rights advocates have argued the law will disenfranchise a slew of Black people in the state by limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, and allowing challenges to voting eligibility, among other measures.

  • Warnock and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams have decried the bill and others proposed by Georgia's legislature as modern iterations of Jim Crow laws. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has said the law will ensure the state's elections are "secure, accessible and fair."

What he's saying: "I think the president is engaged on this issue. When I've talked to him, he's agreed that voting rights are foundational," Warnock said Sunday.

  • "But this is the work we have to do and I have to tell you, I was heartened when I heard him speak so clearly about how urgent this is, recognizing that this is Jim Crowe 2.0."
  • "It reminded me of another president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who when he saw what he saw was going on in the South, people standing up for their rights, he gave that famous address to the nation and he ended it by lifting up the words from the anthem of the movement. He said 'we shall overcome.'"

Biden last week called the law the "Jim Crow in the 21st century," and told reporters later Friday that the Justice Department was examining it.

  • "This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience," Biden wrote in a statement.

Worth noting: Democrats have positioned a sweeping voting rights package they introduced at the national level in Congress as a counter to the Georgia law, and other potential state laws they say could restrict voting rights.

  • "You're going to see that we are going to find a way to secure voting rights and pass the kind of legislation that expands, rather than contracts our democracy," Warnock said.

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