Saturday, September 18, 2010

Holder smacked down over voting

A crimson tide of embarrassment rises at the Justice Department

Amplify’d from
A crimson tide of embarrassment rises at the Justice Department

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has lurched from multiple controversies into an outright embarrassment. In an order issued Sept. 16, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia gave Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s team the legal equivalent of a 2-by-4 across the head. The department's handling of a voting rights case from Shelby County, Ala., has been so slipshod as to invite questions of its legal competence across the board.

Shelby County is challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's Section 5, an increasingly problematic requirement that election jurisdictions in several states, mostly Southern, secure "pre-clearance" from Justice for any change in voting practices. This includes minor details such as moving a polling place from a school gym to its cafeteria. The county writes, "in the last 10 years, [it] has sought pre-clearance numerous times, expended significant taxpayer dollars, time and energy to meet its obligations under Section 5 of the VRA, and has had at least one election delayed in order to ensure compliance."


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