Eric Holder must be amazed that President Obama was elected and he could become Attorney General. That’s a fair inference after the Attorney General last Friday blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minorities. What a political abuse of law.
In a letter to South Carolina’s government, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a violation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Overall, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters. This is the yawning chasm the Justice Department is now using to justify the unprecedented federal intrusion into state election law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Voting Rights request since 1994.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was created to combat the systematic disenfranchisement of minorities, especially in Southern states with a history of discrimination. But the Justice position is a lead zeppelin, contradicting both the Supreme Court and the Department’s own precedent. In 2005, Justice approved a Georgia law with the same provisions and protections of the one Mr. Holder nixed for South Carolina. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that an Indiana law requiring photo ID did not present an undue burden on voters.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
A second case offers a further glimpse into the High Court’s perspective on the modern use of Section 5. In 2009’s Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, the Court declined to decide the question of the constitutionality of Section 5, writing that while it imposes “substantial federalism costs,” the “importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it.” But the Justices didn’t stop there.
They also cast real doubt on the long-term viability of the law, noting in an 8-1 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts that it “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.” That such strong criticism was signed by even the Court’s liberals should concern Mr. Holder, who may eventually have to defend his South Carolina smackdown in court.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley tells us she “will absolutely sue” Justice over its denial of her state’s law and that challenge will go directly to federal district court in Washington, D.C. From there it may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which would have to consider whether South Carolina can be blocked from implementing a law identical to the one the High Court approved for Indiana, simply because South Carolina is a “covered” jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act.
Full Article: Review & Outlook: Holder’s Racial Politics – WSJ.com.