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"Our Unfinished March": AG Eric Holder on voting rights in America

Eric Holder, who served as US Attorney General for six years of the Obama Administration, is a voting rights advocate and a leader of a nationwide campaign to achieve fair legislative redistricting. (photo courtesy Penguin/Random House)

Tom's guest today is Eric Holder, who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States during the first six years of the Obama Administration. He was the first African American to serve in that position. Today, he is working to advance voting rights with the organization he founded in 2016 and now chairs called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

The NDRC works to remedy the gerrymandering that causes so many areas of the country to be poorly represented in Congress. Holder contends that voter suppression is as old as the republic itself, and he believes basic fixes are needed to counter the anti-democratic impulses that lead to laws that target people of color to make voting harder.

When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, many states responded by enacting draconian voter restriction laws. Mr. Holder says it made him realize that the Supreme Court and the Congress are facing what he calls a “modern day existential crisis,” and that our democracy can only be pulled back from the brink of disaster by rigorous reforms to the most basic tenet of our representative government: voting.

In his new book, Mr. Holder and co-author Sam Koppelman observe that the country is operating with an “unrepresentative Senate, a gerrymandered House, an anti-democratic Electoral College and a stolen Supreme Court.” And they offer prescriptions for reforms.

The book is called Our Unfinished March:  The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, A Crisis, A Plan.

Eric Holder joined us on Zoom from Washington, DC.

This conversation was recorded on June 28, 2022, so we aren't taking any listener calls today.

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