Attorney General Eric Holder has stacked the deck against Voter ID laws by sidelining more experienced nonpartisan attorneys and by replacing them with radical leftists intent on overturning them, according to former Bush Justice Department figures.
J. Christian Adams, a former Bush DOJ official, told Hill staffers at a Friday lunch sponsored by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) that these appointments shed light on Holder’s recent decision to block Voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin.
“…[T]he ranks of new civil servants arriving in Holder’s civil rights shop in protected civil service slots are among the most strident ideologues,” former Bush DOJ official and current Heritage Fellow Hans von Spakovsky wrote in an August 8, 2011 blog on Pajamas Media.
These attorneys include people like Michelle McLeod, who interned with the SEIU’s New York Civic Participation Project; Bradley Heard, a veteran of the radical left-wing Advancement Project and Catherine Meza, a veteran of the National Council of La Raza and the radical Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, among others.
“Government doesn’t need to overreach,” Adams said. “The Department of Justice are really being activist, and their arguments are approaching this from an activist [perspective] and not a legal one.”
Currently, 16 states require voter IDs for voters on Election Day, and six states, now including Pennsylvania have passed strong Voter ID laws.
Adams says the liberal editorial press has been attempting to provide cover for Holder’s partisan Justice Department by arguing that conservatives have created a non-issue or that Voter ID laws discriminate against minorities.
“The Supreme Court said that Voter ID laws were not unconstitutional, but it did not say that they were constitutional,” Adams said.
But the intelligentsia rhetoric doesn’t match the positions taken by several minority Democratic state legislators who have led the fight for Voter ID laws in their states, according to Adams.
For example, several black Democratic state legislators led the push for Voter ID laws in Rhode Island and elsewhere around the country.
“I think that party leaders have tried to make this a Republican versus Democrat issue. It’s not. It’s simply a good government issue,” State Rep. Jon Brien, D-R.I. , told Stateline. “Those who are opposed to voter ID,” Brien adds, “never let the facts get in the way of a really good emotional argument.”
Adams questioned the timing of the DOJ actions suggesting they would not be complete before November.
RNLA put out a press release earlier this week charging the action against Texas amounted to “putting partisan politics above reality and the law” and that the decision was “not based on accurate data or the merits of the argument.”
But the Democrats’ 2006 reauthorization of the federal Voting Rights Act created a wrinkle that states will have to contend with in the face of the DOJ onslaught.
Democrats’ inserted the word “any” into Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, meaning that states like Mississippi, New Hampshire and Wisconsin require DOJ approval before changing their Voter ID laws. The change in the law also put the burden of proof on the states to show they did not have “any” discriminatory impact.
The 2006 revision of the Voting Rights Act also eliminated the ability of states to point to mitigating factors such as having a program to assist voters in obtaining free voter IDs.
The Holder Justice Department has created what Adams calls the 20 percent “Pufferfish” in its challenge to South Carolina’s Voter ID laws, which amounts to using deceptive math to achieve its ends.
The DOJ sent a letter to the state of South Carolina challenging its Voter ID law, claiming that minority registered voters were 20 percent more likely to disenfranchised by the state’s law than whites. But in reality, Adams notes, the difference between the number of black voters and the number of white voters with valid IDs is 1.6 percent.
Adams warned that Virginia, where many DOJ bureaucrats live, could be one of the next states to taste Holder’s wrath against its new Voter ID law.
Adams suggested that conservatives change their arguments defending Voter ID laws because many of the comparisons being made – such as needing to have ID to buy Sudafed – are not direct corollaries because they are not constitutional issues.
Instead, he suggested that conservatives message around the need for IDs to get a marriage license because marriage is considered a constitutionally protected right. Yet no one has of yet argued that such laws disenfranchise minorities.
“They are asking evidence of significant in-person voter fraud,” Adams said. “Justice doesn’t have the authority to do that.”