Attorney General Eric Holder chose an appropriate location - the presidential library of Lyndon B. Johnson - to announce his new fight against the growing outbreak of voter suppression efforts by state legislatures.
Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with the words, "the right to vote is the basic right, without which all others are meaningless."
But now, voting rights are under attack. Five lawsuits seek to overturn the landmark 1965 act. Legislators in more than 30 states, including Pennsylvania, have introduced or passed bills to restrict voting, supposedly to protect against a rare form of fraud.
These Trojan horse laws make it hard for the elderly, poor and minorities to vote. Those groups are less likely to have valid drivers' licenses or other forms of acceptable photo IDs than other voters.
Low-income and minority voters are more likely to support Democratic candidates, so it's no surprise these underhanded attempts to discourage voting come as President Obama, the first African American president in U.S. history, stands for reelection. They have been rightly compared to poll taxes and literacy tests.
Proponents of photo ID argue that people already show a driver's license to pass airport security or to cash a check, so why not flash a photo ID at the polling place? That argument misrepresents the meaning of the right to vote.
Cashing a check or flying on a jet is not a basic American right secured by blood and struggle. Voting is an inalienable right which enables all citizens to participate in their governance.
Laws already passed in 14 states could keep more than 5 million from voting. In Pennsylvania, about 320,000 voters don't have acceptable forms of photo ID. A Senate committee recently amended the bill to allow elderly voters to use IDs issued by the nursing homes where they live and students at accredited in-state colleges or universities to use their student IDs.
But the rest of the old, young, poor, and minority voters who do not have proper photo IDs could be disenfranchised under the bill, which is supported by Gov. Corbett and GOP legislators.
Even photo ID supporters admit that voter fraud by impersonating someone at the polls is rare, so it is clear the bill aims to discourage largely Democratic citizens from voting in 2012. Pennsylvania voters already must produce identification when voting at a polling place for the first time and if a poll worker demands it.
Holder asked his audience, "Are we willing to allow this era - our era - to be remembered as the age when our nation's proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended? Are we willing to allow this time - our time - to be recorded in history as the age when the long-held belief that, in this country, every citizen has the chance - and the right - to help shape their government, became a relic of our past, instead of a guidepost for our future?"
The answer is for Corbett and governors in other states to veto these bills.
Holder said he is examining restrictive laws in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina. He should put Pennsylvania on his list.