I’ll be testifying to the House Judiciary Committee today about the Shelby decision on the Voting Rights Act and what Congress should do, if anything.
Here is my written testimony.
The portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down was used to attack election integrity laws around the country. It was also used to abuse federal power. From my testimony:
A 2009 objection in Kinston, North Carolina, shows the outrageous, abusive and legally indefensible positions the Voting Section will adopt using Section 5. Kinston, a majority black jurisdiction, in a referendum decided to dump partisan elections for town office and move to nonpartisan elections. The Voting Section, exploiting the burden shift and plain requirement that Kinston prove the absence of a negative, objected to the change. The objection was explicitly based on the morally and legally indefensible position that black voters would not know for whom to vote if the word “Democrat” was not next to a candidate’s name.
The legally indefensible abuse of power in the Kinston and Georgia redistricting objections are just a couple of many others. Congress actually relied on some of these abusive and meritless objections when Congress reauthorized Section 5 in 2006. These abusive and meritless objections polluted the record in 2006, but no plaintiff ever challenged them, and Congress took no testimony regarding their merits.
You might think that the House will block efforts to resurrect these abusive policies. You’d be wrong.
Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner and Eric Cantor have indicated that they are open to passing new triggers that broadly impose burdens on some states and not others. That’s a mistake. Congress can address this problem without resorting to obsolete over-inclusive triggers. It can rely on Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act to grab states and force federal oversight of election changes after those states violate the law. The Left uses Section 5 oversight to attack election integrity laws. It’s time that House Republicans recognize it’s not 2006 anymore, and certainly not 1964.