Eric Holder’s Voting Section has become a fully integrated wing of the Democratic National Committee. It is skilled at generating headlines and mobilizing voters, but not so skilled at actually helping minorities get elected. Zachary Roth has this piece over at MSNBC containing grumbles that the Holder DOJ is afraid to sue and do hard litigation against localities under the Voting Rights Act. A comparison with the Bush administration’s voting rights record demonstrates that even the MSNBC broken clock is right twice a day.
Under Eric Holder, the Justice Department has adopted a headline-grabbing model of voting rights enforcement. The cases are attention-grabbing. They are designed to mobilize voters ahead of an election. And winning doesn’t matter as much as generating headlines and mobilizing minority voters. It is a community-activist model of law enforcement.
Consider South Carolina voter ID. The Justice Department lost in its efforts to block South Carolina’s identification law. But that didn’t matter because the Obama re-election campaign won. Holder and the DNC launched an integrated campaign to scare black voters, and a sleepy base was mobilized in 2012.
Now contrast that headline-grabbing loss with Eric Holder doing nothing for black voters in Fayette County, Georgia. That’s right, nothing. The NAACP had begged for the Justice Department to do something about an all-white county board. Holder did nothing. Instead, the NAACP was forced to go out and slog through litigation to demonstrate a discriminatory election plan, ultimately winning under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Tough litigation is no longer the model at the Holder DOJ. As I posted at my blog:
Under the Bush administration, the Voting Section wasn’t afraid of hard tough litigation against localities: Euclid, Lake Park, Osceola, and others. There wasn’t much glory, but the cases resulted in minority representation. Under Holder, the Voting Section has barely brought any litigation, and when it does, it is aimed at headlines. The Voting Section avoids tough slogs. It steps in as amicus or interested parties after someone else has done the heavy lifting like the NAACP. Under the Bush administration, the Voting Section did the heavy lifting. Under Obama, it’s all about perceptions and faculty lounge agendas. So Roth turning to Hebert exposes a methodological shortcoming of the Holder DOJ, notwithstanding the bitterness between personalities of the parties. This DOJ won’t sue Galveston because it is afraid to sue localities. It’s after bigger, cheaper, lower risk fish.
The Holder DOJ goes after targets that even when the DOJ loses, the DOJ and the DNC win. Exhibit South Carolina. DOJ lost the Voter ID fight, but mobilized a base ahead of the 2012 Presidential election. Suing Galveston Texas has no political payoff. If the DOJ lost, it would be a real loss. The current DOJ only pursues headline grabbing win–win voter mobilization cases.
So let’s meet some of the minority elected officials who owe their election to the tough litigation brought by the Bush Justice Department. I’m keen to learn if the Holder DOJ can point to a single success story like these in six years.
Meet Zelma Carver, member of the Georgetown County (SC) school board. She was elected after litigation which I helped bring in South Carolina challenging the at-large school board in the county.
Meet Dr. Arthur Lance. Dr. Lance was one of our witnesses in United States v. Georgetown County. After the case was resolved, he was elected to the board.
Dr. Arthur Lance
Now let’s travel to Osceola County (FL), another local government where the Bush Justice Department wasn’t afraid to pursue Voting Rights Act claims that achieved real results, not just headlines. Meet Kevin Soto, school board member.
The Bush DOJ also sued the Osceola County Commission under the Voting Rights Act, resulting ultimately in the election of John Quiñones.
Now let’s journey to the city of Euclid, Ohio. The Bush Justice Department sued Euclid for having an at-large election system that wiped out minority political representation. Because of this litigation, Stephana Caviness and Kandace Jones were elected to city council.
Jones (L) and Caviness (R)
These are just a few of the success stories from the Bush DOJ in getting hard concrete results in voting litigation, and not just headlines. As far as I can tell, the Holder Justice Department can’t point to a single success story. There are no photos.