Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on Monday that he would continue to fight for voter identification laws in Texas, responding to a somewhat leading question tied to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The South Carolina and Texas laws would require voters to provide a photo I.D. at the polls, which could keep some low-income, young or minority residents from voting. The Justice Department is attempting to block these laws.
"Now, Gov. Perry, are you suggesting on this Martin Luther King Jr. day that the federal government has no business scrutinizing the states where they were denied the right to vote?" debate moderator Juan Williams asked.
Perry did not back down from the issue. He said the federal government is wrong to go after such laws, adding that the Justice Department was wrong to challenge state immigration laws.
"I'm saying the state of Texas is under assault by federal government," he said. "I'm saying also that South Carolina is at war with this federal government and with this administration."
The Justice Department also sued to block immigration laws in South Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and Indiana, based on a claim that they preempted federal law and could violate civil rights.
"When you look at what this Justice Department has done, not only have they taken them to task on voter I.D., they have also taken them to task on their immigration law, and the most egregious thing is the National Labor Relations Board where they come into a right to work state and tell the state of South Carolina we aren't going to let a private company come in here," he continued.
He said the attempts to block those laws is unconstitutional, and then moved to a favorite topic of his, saying the government is "at war against organized religion" because of its policies on funds to Catholic charities.
"If that's not a war on religion, I don't know what it is," he said. "And this administration is out of control."