On December 13, embattled Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Austin, Texas to deliver a speech at the LBJ Presidential Library. There are signs that Holder’s speech may well trumpet an impending objection by the Justice Department to either the Voter ID law passed by South Carolina or Texas. If so, such a speech would mark a stunning politicization of law enforcement by the Justice Department. The Attorney General doesn’t usually turn the enforcement of Section 5 into political hay. Here’s how the LBJ library website teases Holder’s speech:
Nearly half a century since President Johnson signed the landmark Voting Rights Act into law, Attorney General Holder will discuss the importance of ensuring equal access to the ballot box and strengthening America’s long tradition of expanding the franchise.
But there are more clues that something big may be afoot.
I spoke with Anne Wheeler, the Communications Director at the LBJ Library. She told me that DOJ has told her “this will be a major policy speech about Voting Rights Act enforcement.” This characterization came from one of Holder’s ”senior aides,” according to Wheeler. Also, Wheeler tells me that DOJ Press Harpy Tracy Schmaler is involved in setting up the “major policy speech” at the LBJ Library. With Schmaler’s involvement, any amount of politicized mischief from DOJ is possible.
If DOJ objects to Texas or South Carolina Voter ID in the next few days, the coordination with the political and public affairs staff at Justice will speak volumes about the politicized rot at DOJ. It means that a coordinated roll out of an objection that blocks a voter integrity measure in Texas or South Carolina will have occurred. Holder’s speech is being written now, undoubtedly. Is the objection already done, and sitting on ice until the political parade can march in Austin?
The build up to Holder’s speech is yet one more ominous warning sign for Texas and South Carolina. But it isn’t too late. They could literally fax a letter to the DOJ Voting Section withdrawing the Voter ID submission and rain on Holder’s political parade in Austin next week. They could go to federal court to seek preclearance, instead.
I reserve the right to be wrong, of course. Perhaps Holder really is travelling to Austin to announce some new Voting Rights Act event, but I doubt it.
We may be about to witness the most crude form of politicization of law enforcement powers. We may be about to witness the Attorney General of the United States whip the President’s base into a frenzy by trumpeting his exercise of federal power to block election integrity measures in Texas or South Carolina before the 2012 election.
If that’s what Holder does in Austin, the Obama campaign should at least reimburse the taxpayer for Holder’s (and probably Schmaler’s) travel to Texas next week.