Officials at a leading black organization say Attorney General Eric Holder’s attack on the state of Texas regarding voting regulations is out of line.
Horace Cooper, co-chairman of Project 21, the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives, called the announcement by Holder that he wants to retain oversight over the way states conduct elections – even though the Supreme Court invalidated part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act – a crass political move.
“With today’s statement, Attorney General Eric Holder proves he is more interested in political stunts than enforcing the law,” said Cooper, a native Texan and former constitutional law professor and legal counsel to then-U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas. “It may aid the political efforts of Mr. Holder to bring these phony claims to court, but his win-loss record in these matters is becoming clearer and clearer.”
Holder said he initially will target Texas’ voting procedures, but said he will expand his targets. In his announcement, he said that he will put a bull’s-eye on several other states, too, possibly including South Carolina, North Carolina and Alaska.
The move came Thursday when the Department of Justice asked judges in San Antonio to order oversight of the state’s voting operations.
That demand from the DOJ came even though the Supreme Court released a decision that essentially canceled Washington oversight of a lot of state elections procedures and practices.
Specifically canceled was a requirement that various states obtain permission from the federal government before making any voting procedures changes.
But Holder said he would use another portion of the law to try to continue what he wanted to watch among the states.
In an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, writer Devlin Barrett pointed out that the high court voided Section 5 by determining that the formula the federal government used to identity states that must get “clearance” before changing procedures was unconstitutional.
Section 5 provides that regions with a “history” of discrimination be subjected to regulation.
Holder simply said he now will use Section 3, which allows oversight if there’s “evidence” of intentional discrimination.
Holder said in a speech to the National Urban League that he’ll try every way he can, in fact, “use every tool at our disposal,” to usurp the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“The courtroom is no place to roll the dice to find out what the law is, and the attorney general of the United States should know better,” Cooper explained. “Whether Mr. Holder chooses to admit it or not, the burdens have shifted and the process is changed. Instead of Texas having to disprove the Obama Justice Department’s claims, it is now up to Mr. Holder to put up or shut up.”
The issue arose because Texas lawmakers had created ballot safeguards last year by requiring identification for in-person voting. The DOJ said that wouldn’t be allowed to happen.
But when the Supreme Court opinion was released, the door was opened for that very action.
Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case.