Eric Holder’s Keystone State Voter ID Shakedown

The Eric Holder Justice Department has done it again, this time in Pennsylvania.  Not content to use Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to shake down Texas and South Carolina, the DOJ yesterday sent a demand to the Keystone State for stacks of documents regarding Pennsylvania voter ID.

This letter was a highly irregular and purely partisan exercise designed to stoke Obama’s electoral base in Philadelphia. It is also designed to placate the civil rights industry, which has quietly simmered about the lack of enforcement of the Voting Rights Act to help minorities over the last three years.  (See, Wade Henderson – Cat Got Your Tongue?)

The demand letter to Pennsylvania was sent pursuant to 42 U.S.C 1974. This law requires election officials to preserve election records for 22 months after an election. It is designed to ensure that no racial discrimination occurred in the conduct of a particular election.  For example, poll books from 1966 would have to be kept for 22 months to ensure that both black and white voters who were properly registered were actually allowed to vote.

Like so much with this Justice Department, the partisans have perverted the law and demanded far more than the law allows, so much so that even liberal former DOJ lawyers are surprised.

Note that Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez signed the letter.  Normally, when I worked on cases involving 42 U.S.C. 1974, either the trial lawyer or section chief would sign the letter.  It may be that Chris Herren, the current section chief, would do neither what the career partisans below him wanted nor what the political gangsters above him wanted.  Internal dissent may be afoot, and with good reason.

The letter also demands that Pennsylvania turn over information far beyond what Section 1974 envisions. The letter reads like a discovery request in litigation, which of course it is -- it’s just that the litigation hasn’t started yet.  In fact, it is almost impossible for DOJ lawyers to write a “J-Memo” without Pennsylvania’s cooperation. That’s another way of saying Pennsylvania is most likely to be sued only if they cooperate with the demand letter.

Expect DOJ to do something against Pennsylvania in the fall to really pump the political bellows, even if it is simply a notice of intent to sue.

Assistant Attorney General Perez should have to answer to Congress this week about any coordination between the DOJ and the ACLU regarding the latter’s lawsuit against Pennsylvania.  The letter reads like an ACLU wish list in their lawsuit.

The letter seeks all voter records, lists of people who don’t have ID, and internal studies which probably don’t exist exactly like DOJ suspects.  The letter even brazenly goes after Governor Tom Corbett’s press shop, demanding documents supporting his press release!