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Federal Court: DOJ Must Reimburse South Carolina for Voter ID Folly

January 5th, 2013 - 9:28 am

A federal court has ruled that South Carolina was the prevailing party in the unnecessary Voter ID litigation, and therefore the Justice Department is liable for paying the state’s costs. South Carolina spent $3,500,000 to obtain federal court approval of the state’s Voter ID law as non-discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was made necessary only because of the political and ideological radicalism of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and his deputy Matthew Colangelo.

AAG Tom Perez

PJ Media had this exclusive report detailing that career Voting Section employees, including Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, recommended that the Voter ID law be approved in the first place by DOJ after a careful written analysis inside the Voting Section.  Documents prepared by the career staff urged Perez and Colangelo to grant administrative approval to the South Carolina Voter ID law — but they refused. Their refusal was, in part, designed to energize a moribund political base heading into the 2012 election. The cost to the American taxpayers for their stunt will be significant.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office was quick to respond to the court’s ruling late yesterday:

“The state Attorney General’s Office blamed the U.S. Department of Justice for the high cost of the case. They accused the federal government of delaying the case by 120 days by filing numerous frivolous motions, including challenging the 12-point font size on a document the state filed.

“The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., bears responsibility for the litigation costs,” said Mark Powell, Wilson’s spokesman. “The decision was so emphatic, even the Department of Justice and Interveners did not appeal it. South Carolina was forced to pay a hefty price because a handful of Washington insiders refused to do the right thing.”

Whether Congress will hold Perez and Colangelo accountable remains to be seen. Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have already demanded that Perez turn over the documents about which PJ Media first reported on September 11, 2012. So far, sources tell me that Graham has not received what he has asked for, though he may already possess the documents from other sources.

Tellingly, DOJ has not denied that such internal approval memos exist. They can’t.

All of this raises the question — will Perez and Colangelo be held accountable for what amounted to an expensive use of the Justice Department to energize President Obama’s political base? As we now know, there was no merit to the objection. A federal court approved the law. The many career staff who looked at it said the South Carolina law did not discriminate.

Congress might get answers if they haul DOJ Voting Section Chief Christopher Herren before the House Judiciary Committee for answers. The Democrats could hardly object — after all, they dragged Bush-era Voting Section Chief John Tanner before the Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about Georgia Voter ID. There is precedent. Democrats could hardly object when the Voting Section Chief during the Bush administration was made to dance the dance before the Committee.

Chris Herren

Of course, had the president’s base remained asleep, Perez and Colangelo would be looking for work, with the former earning a slippery reputation over the last four years.  MORE ON PAGE TWO.

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