Yesterday evening, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr gave a wide-ranging interview on CNN during which he refused to condemn President Trump’s statements encouraging North Carolina voters to attempt cast two ballots: one by mail and one in-person. Attorney General Barr alleged he did not know specific state laws on voting twice. In the same interview, when asked about the epidemic of police violence against Black Americans, Barr acknowledged that while police might treat Black people as “stereotypes,” it is not racism.
Today, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill released the following response:
“Last night, the Attorney General of the United States equivocated when he was asked in a televised interview about whether voting twice is illegal. We want to be clear: intentionally casting two separate ballots in the same election is illegal, and any such attempt at double voting puts voters at risk of committing a felony offense. It should not be attempted. It was irresponsible for the President to suggest that voters attempt to do this; it was unconscionable for the Attorney General – who is responsible for enforcing the laws that protect the right to vote – to refuse to denounce it.
“We would be remiss if we did not also respond to the Attorney General’s statement regarding racial discrimination in policing. Mr. Barr conceded in his interview that Black people may be treated differently by police, but he does not believe it to be racism. He also cautioned that we should be ‘careful’ about using the term racism.
“Treating Black people differently is the very definition of racism. It violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution – which guarantees ‘equal protection of laws’ – and numerous civil rights statutes. The Attorney General of the United States is responsible for enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws. While we cannot say we are shocked, we remain appalled by the failure of this Attorney General to demonstrate his preparedness to take on this critical function of his office. Worse, Mr. Barr used his position in this interview to obliterate the very concept of illegal racism, and to substitute the meaning of racial discrimination with his own cramped and empty conception of this grievous wrong that even as we speak is tearing at the fabric of our fragile democracy.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.