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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Voting Rights


Location: Unknown

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Nothing is more important in America than the right and the
power to vote. How disturbed, or are you disturbed by the comments made by
Justice Scalia today?

CUMMINGS: I`m extremely disturbed, Ed, but not surprised. I think
when I listen to Justice Scalia, he seems to have forgotten the very
Constitution that he is supposed uphold.

And that Constitution gives the citizens of this country the right to
vote. It`s not some type of entitlement. It`s a right to vote. And we
have a right to vote and we have a right to have our votes counted.
And clearly, when he talks that entitlement stuff, that is far, far
off to the right. And clearly, what he is trying to do is trying to figure
out a way to do away with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But I can
tell you, Ed, I don`t think that`s going to happen.

But when you listen to the questions and the discussions that happened
today in the Supreme Court, I can tell you as a lawyer, it does concern me
where the court is going, particularly when we have Justice Roberts
questioning whether the Congress should be making these decisions.
So, basically, what they were saying was, well, you know, the
Congress, although we are elected by the people, perhaps we should not be
the ones to make the decisions on the reauthorizations of the Voting Rights
Act, and perhaps nine justices who have not been elected to anything --


CUMMINGS: -- should have that right. And it just concerns me that.

SCHULTZ: That is a very profound point. They would rather have an
appointed body make the decisions on voting rights instead of an elected

CUMMINGS: Isn`t that amazing?

SCHULTZ: I find that utterly amazing. I mean, their ideology, right
on their sleeve, right out in the open.

I mean, I think it is terribly misguided to think there is no longer
any discrimination over voting rights in this country. Just look at the
last election.

CUMMINGS: Ed, let me -- yes, let me tell you something, Ed. As you
know in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I`m a ranking
member, and we`ve done quite a bit of investigating with regard to True to
Vote and some of these organizations that have tried to prevent people from
voting. Of course, what you just talked about, the efforts to do -- to
have stricter voter ID laws and then doing away with early voting and
things of that nature.

SCHULTZ: Isn`t that what it`s about, Congressman? They want to get
the feds out of the way.

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right.

SCHULTZ: They want to have their own set of voting registration laws.
They want to make it as tough as it possibly can on any individual that
they really don`t want to see vote when it comes to registration. What
else could it be?

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right, Ed. And the fact, Ed, is this. They
know that America simply is not buying their philosophy.

And so, what they do? They say to themselves, let`s make sure that
people are not able to vote.

And to be frank with you, I think it`s one of the most unpatriotic
things I`ve ever heard of. Here we are going around the world, giving our
blood, sweat, and treasure to defend democracies, to make sure people are
able to vote, sending monitors, Ed, into other countries. And in our
country, in this country, we`ve got people standing in line five, six, or
seven hours.

Matter of fact, we just are out of the forum -- our committee held a
forum in Virginia, in Congressman Connelly`s district, where we had people
telling us, testifying that they stood in line for five and six hours
trying to vote.

SCHULTZ: And they don`t want to remedy that it seems like. It is
amazing what`s unfolding in the Supreme Court.

Quickly, how do you think they`ll rule? Do you think they`ll strike
it down, Section 5?

CUMMINGS: I -- no, I don`t, I don`t think so. I don`t think so. I
think it`s too important.

Keep in mind, Ed, we just reauthorized it in 2006. It was 98-0 in the
Senate, and 390-38 in the House. You can`t just do away with that.

SCHULTZ: Scalia says it`s the name of the bill. I mean, who would
vote against that, the Voting Rights Act? I mean, that`s how simplified
it`s gotten with them.

Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. I really appreciate
your time. Thank you.

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