GA AG Sam Olens refuses to be Eric Holder’s pinata
July 5, 2011 - 1:55 pm
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, along with some other savvy attorneys general, are leading the way in relations with Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Georgia is one of the states that must get every single election law change approved by the Voting Section at the DOJ. Georgia has realized that bypassing the DOJ and going directly to federal court (states have a choice) is the way to get election law changes approved more quickly, cheaply and fairly. Rome News notes of Olens:
He’s also not shy about challenging the feds on his own. He sued the U.S. Department of Justice to get approval to enact Georgia’s process for verifying the citizenship of people registering to vote.
“Part of the reason they have had good luck is because they are finally going to court,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former Justice Department political appointee.In court, Justice Department ideologues, von Spakovsky argues, can’t base their reasoning on rumor or philosophy to convince the judge the way they can in their administrative decisions. Instead, they have to argue the law and legal precedent.
That willingness to sue may be why the department gave preclearance last week to a controversial state law allowing governors to remove elected school-board members from office for unprofessional comments or behavior. Since all the school board members referred to by sponsors of the legislation were black, preclearance was expected to be iffy.
Covered states like North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Alaska and Alabama must still obtain federal approval for a variety of laws ranging from Voter ID to redistricting. Will attorneys general in those states follow Olens’ (and Virginia AG Cuccinelli’s) lead and go straight to district court, or will they become Eric Holder’s pinata??