DOJ Refuses to Release Documents Shedding Light on the Politicization of Voter ID Legal Battles
by Judy Kent
Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Justice is 158 days (5 months and 5 days) late in turning over potentially damaging documents in response to a National Center for Public Policy Research Freedom of Information Act request related to Attorney General Eric Holder's seemingly-obsessive desire to overturn state-level voter integrity measures in the face of logic and Supreme Court precedent.
"Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that state-level voter ID laws are a commonsense, constitutional way for states to protect their citizens from voter fraud. Almost immediately upon being appointed, Attorney General Eric Holder set out on a mission to squash voter ID laws by claiming that they are somehow racist - a mission that has bordered on the absurd and delusional," said National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof, Esq.
"DOJ officials claim that the National Center's information request presents 'unusual circumstances' and that they need additional time to reply. Holder claims he communicated with droves of Americans who complained that their voting rights were under assault from voter ID laws. We want to see those communications," said Danhof. "What is unusual and complex about that?"
On December 13, 2011, Holder gave a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum in which he claimed that he had traveled the country and "heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from many Americans, who - often for the first time in their lives - now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation's most noble, and essential, ideals [of protecting voting rights]."
This speech appeared to be the first formal indication that the Obama Administration would begin to challenge popular and bipartisan protections against vote fraud at the state level. In an effort to understand Holder's motivations, the National Center submitted a FOIA request on April 13, 2012 to obtain copies of the communications that Holder claimed had influenced the DOJ policymaking process.
While FOIA rules compel the Justice Department to fulfill legitimate requests within 20 working days, repeated requests from the National Center have produced no documents over the past five months.
So Holder's motivation for defying Supreme Court precedent remains a mystery.
"Did Al Sharpton tell Holder to pursue these frivolous lawsuits against voter ID measures? Did Louis Farrakhan? Did Jesse Jackson? Did President Obama? Perhaps the idea was raised by the New Black Panther Party members when Holder's office was giving them a slap on the wrist for their blatant voter intimidation during the 2008 election," said Danhof. "The reality is that we do not know where the idea to fight ballot safeguard measures came from because the Department of Justice is trying to run out the clock by withholding potentially damning information about Holder's motivations to contravene state authority, Supreme Court precedent and the American people."
In his assault on voter integrity measures, Holder has blatantly played the race card - going so far as to claim that photo ID laws are akin to poll taxes - an incredible insult to every American who lived under Jim Crow laws and endured real racism at the polls.
Holder's crusade has not been well received in court. Just last week, a federal court unanimously slapped down DOJ's attempt to stomp out South Carolina's new voter ID law - a law which Justice Department officials actually claimed was passed as a racist response to President Obama's election.
On the National Center's blog, Danhof has strongly criticized the DOJ's legal argument, saying "[t]his argument - that South Carolina officials passed a photo ID law for voting in relation to the election of a black president - has absolutely no place in a courtroom. It is one thing for Holder to attend an NAACP conference and cry racism over voter ID laws by calling them poll taxes. But South Carolina's voter ID case was argued in a federal court... The law is a learned profession and our courtrooms are sanctuaries of justice and virtue. Inside courtrooms across America, serious proceedings for serious people take place. If this case is any indication, Attorney General Holder is not a serious person."