All-Star Panel: The uproar over voter ID laws

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This morning we affirm that the struggle must and will go on in the cause of our nation's quest for justice until every eligible American has the chance to exercise his or her right to vote unencumbered by discriminatory or unneeded procedures, rules, or practices.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R - TEXAS: This is deeply depressing to see the chief law enforcement officer in the country use partisan politics, and that's all it is, to drive a wedge between Americans based on race and ethnicity. It's really sad because we have come a long way.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, today at the White House President Obama met with civil rights leaders preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. He will give a big speech Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial. Today, as you see, meeting with civil rights leaders, and they'll be expecting some tough language on the growth of state voter I.D. laws. What about this? We are back with the panel. Steve, there are a number of states who have done it. You need a photo I.D. for a number of things, but yet this is a big issue this week for these black leaders.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Including attending some of Eric Holder's speeches you have to show I.D. Look, it should be totally uncontroversial to have to show I.D. to vote. Now, whether that means that the states should take it upon themselves to provide more funding to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get I.D.'s -- that's, I think, an open question. I think voting is such a fundamental right that even in times of tight budgets you would find some conservatives who would be willing to go along with a plan that would ensure that everybody has those I.D.'s.

But the idea that you should be able to show up at a polling booth on the day the election, and not be registered, and not have to produce an I.D., and actually then vote, I think it's crazy.

BAIER: Photo I.D., as I said is required to get in government buildings, courts, board a plane, rent a car, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And voter I.D. laws when they are polled are quite popular. However, you have to put this in a bigger context. If the sum total of these laws, that aren't just showing photo I.D. at the polls it's also curtailing early voting, same day registration, same day polling opening, if the sum total of them are perceived as making it harder for one group of people to vote, lower income, minority, young people, registration on college campuses is curtailed in some of these states' efforts, it adds up to something that is -- Colin Powell talked about this this weekend, could produce a backlash against the Republican party.

BAIER: With the justice --

LIASSON: I think they do this at their peril, at the same time that I think the legal effort that the Obama administration is undertaking probably is doomed in the courts.

BAIER: The Justice Department filing against the state of Texas.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look – but look at this in context. It's all happening on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington when the politics of it -- the Jim Crow laws, the voter restrictions had a huge impact on black Americans.  All of that changed and black American life has changed radically.

Is the biggest issue in African-American life today the voter I.D. law? Is that going to alter the course of society, black America, the inner cities, the terrible standard in the schools, the breakdown of the family, and all of that? It's nostalgia of a movement that's intellectually bankrupt.

BAIER: Are these voter I.D. laws upheld or not?

KRAUTHAMMER: They will be upheld and they have been already in the highest court.

LIASSON: I think they will be upheld, that doesn't mean they won't have a political problem for the people who passed them.

HAYES: Yes, they will be upheld, they should be.

BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for an American hero with a story to tell.

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