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Clinton assails voting rights decision

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday the Voting Rights Act is in “real jeopardy” as a result of the Supreme Court's decision striking down a portion of the law, telling a prominent organization of black women that Congress should act to preserve “fairness and equality” in the nation's voting system.

The former secretary of State was feted with chants of “Run, Hillary, run,” as she concluded her 30-minute remarks to nearly 14,000 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a black women's organization celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Supreme Court's decision “struck at the heart” of the landmark law and warned that it could undermine Americans' most fundamental rights.

“Unless Congress acts, you know, and I know, more obstacles are on their way,” Clinton said, walking freely on stage instead of delivering her speech from a podium. “They're going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted.”

A divided Supreme Court threw out a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act in June, stripping the government of its best way to prevent voting bias — the requirement that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mostly in the South, get Washington's approval before changing the way they hold elections. The decision has been criticized by civil rights groups, which contend it could undermine voting rights in upcoming elections.

Clinton made no mention of any political plans, saying she intends to promote early childhood development, the rights of women and girls around the globe, and economic development in her new role in her family's presidential foundation.

But her speech emphasized the importance of voting rights for black Americans, who supported President Obama in large numbers during the Democratic primary in which Clinton also campaigned in 2008 and in Obama's re-election last year. Black voters have long supported her husband, President Bill Clinton, and would be a key voting bloc if the former first lady sought the presidency in 2016.

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