The controversial video showing a man almost fraudulently accepting a ballot as Attorney General Eric Holder got more airtime Wednesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement track record. The video, made by conservative activist James O’Keefe, prompted some committee members to question the attorney general’s handling of voting cases. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he is “shocked the attorney general hasn’t offered a meaningful response to this.” On hand for the Republican-led House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution hearing was former Voting Section lawyerJ. Christian Adams, who has been a vocal critic of Holder since his dramatic departure from theJustice Department in 2010. Adams was critical of Holder’s decision to partially dismiss a voter intimidation civil lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and members — a racially charged case Adams helped initiate. But many veterans of the Civil Rights Division said the George W. Bush administration’s Voting Section took on a highly politicized agenda in choosing cases.
… Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), ranking member of subcommittee, said the witnesses were stacked for the Republicans and questioned the fairness of allowing the minority only one witness. Nadler also told the subcommittee to remember the politicization of the Bush-era DOJ and Voting Rights Section when hearing from the Republican lawyer witnesses. Also called were Republican National Lawyers Association President Cleta Mitchell, Military Voter Protection Project Executive Director Eric Eversole and New York University professor Wendy Weiser.
Much of the discussion focused on the battle being waged between several states and the Justice Department. Weiser, who is the Director of the Democracy Program at NYU’s non-partisan but liberal-leaning think tank The Brennan Center for Justice, said the wave of new voter identification laws is the largest setback to voting accessibility in her memory. She pointed to long-documented evidence that minorities, the poor, those with disabilities and students, among other demographic groups, are more likely not to have photo identification. “The justification for these laws is actually nonexistent,” she said, adding the in-person impersonation fraud, which many of the voter ID laws aim to curb, is hugely overstated. She said a person is more likely to be hit by lightning than to commit in-person voter fraud.