This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," August 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Hillary Clinton kick starts the 2016 campaign, taking on the Supreme Court and state Voter I.D. laws.
Plus, Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department will no longer enforce mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses.
And a federal judge strike downs New York's controversial Stop and Frisk Program, dealing a blow to big-city policing across the USA.
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
In a speech some see as the first of her 2016 campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took aim this week at what she called an assault on voting, condemning the Supreme Court's June decision striking down key parts of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act and criticizing dozens of state Voter I.D. laws that she says restrict ballot access for minorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: In 2013, so far, more than 80 bills restricting voting rights have been introduced in 31 states. Now not every obstacle is related to race, but anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Political Diary editor, Jason Riley; and senior editorial page writer, Collin Levy.
So, Jason, I may not have been paying attention but --
-- I know you have been paying attention. First of all, I think we can put aside the doubts about whether she is running for president.
I think that's a certainty. But since you have been paying attention, is there evidence of racial discrimination in voting access in America?
JASON RILEY, "POLITICAL DIARY" EDITOR: Well, what the evidence shows, Paul, is that black voter trends since 1996 show that black voter turnout has been increasing. And what's interesting is they've been increasing even in those states -- even as more and more states have been passing Voter I.D. laws. Some of the strictest in the country are in place like Indiana and Georgia and Tennessee. In 2012, black voter turnout in those states exceed white voter turnout. Last year's election, black voter turnout exceeded white voter turnout nationally for the first time in history. So where is the evidence?
GIGOT: What are the magnitudes here? What magnitudes are you talking about? Two-thirds of African-Americans voted. Over 66 percent in 2012.
GIGOT: And the white voter turnout is -- what? -- 64?
RILEY: It's low. Yeah, but it was --
GIGOT: What is the trend? You mentioned the trend since 1996 (ph). This is all Census Bureau data.
RILEY: And you mentioned Hillary in 2016. But I think this particular part of her speech might have been directed at next year's election, the midterm elections. What's going on here is Democrats are worried that without Barack Obama on the ballot, that black voter turnout may be down. I think this is an attempt to scare blacks to the polls by claiming that Republicans are trying to --
GIGOT: So there's politics going on here. Surprise, surprise.
But let's just get that fact out. What's the trend from 1996 in percentage of African-Americans, voting Americans, up 13 percent --
RILEY: It's up 13 percent.
GIGOT: -- from 1996 to 2012?
RILEY: Even in states with some of the strictest Voter I.D. laws in the country.
GIGOT: Now -- OK, so how do you respond to Democrats who say not -- what a surprise. We have the first African-American president on the top of the ballot the last two years. That won't happen when Barack Obama is no longer on the table.
RILEY: Well, the trend precedes Barack Obama. It goes back to 1996. So this is a trend that happened independent of Barack Obama.
Now, will it continue when he's gone? I don't know. But what we do know is that if Republicans are trying to disenfranchise black voters, they have been a doing a spectacularly bad of it.
GIGOT: So, Collin, Secretary of State Clinton said that North Carolina pushed through a bill that, quote, "Reads like the greatest hits of voter suppression," quote, unquote. She's talking about Voter I.D. laws; restricted early voting, for example; no more same-day registration. Is the goal here really voter suppression?
COLLIN LEVY, SENIOR EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: No, of course, it's not. Look, a lot of this rhetoric is getting out of hand. You know what North Carolina did. They still allow provisional ballots if you don't show up with I.D. A lot of these --
GIGOT: You can vote -- oh, OK.
LEVY: Yeah. You're still allowed to cast a provisional ballot if you show up without I.D. We need remember here, too, on these Voter I.D. laws, going back to 2007, Justice John Paul Stevens, on the Supreme Court, already weighed in on these Voter I.D. Laws. And he said that requiring -- states requiring voters to show I.D. at the poll us withes not a great burden. So not only now has the Supreme Court ruled, you know, in the Voting Rights case this year, but you also have their imprimatur on some of these Voter I.D. laws. And that one was in Indiana.