Obama and Holder Cry Wolf on Voting Rights

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder know how to scare minority voters.  In the State of the Union, Obama spoke of “too many” Americans being denied the right to vote.  He couldn’t name any.  Afterwards, Holder told a Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Justice Department that the “right to vote is under siege.”  If the right to vote is truly under siege, as they claim, Holder’s Justice Department sure hasn’t done much about it.


The Justice Department’s own website reveals either that Obama and Holder are crying wolf about this siege against voting rights, or they aren’t doing their job to protect the right to vote.  A glance at the list of DOJ Voting Section litigation shows that Justice Department lawyers took an extended sabbatical in 2014 – not filing a single case to protect minority voters under the Voting Rights Act.

If the siege were real, they should have brought lawsuits to stop the siege, yet they didn’t.

The last case filed by Holder’s Justice Department to fight the “siege” against minority voting rights was in September 2013.  That’s seventeen months Holder did nothing to stop the “siege” on voting rights.  Not since the fall of 2013 has a case been filed to address this purported crisis imperiling the right to vote.

The record before 2013 was even worse.

From 2009, when I filed United States v. Lake Park, the Department of Justice under Holder didn’t file another case under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act until 2013, and then only to attack voter ID.  (Section 2 is the ban on racial discrimination in voting.)

Eric Holder took a multi-year slumber while the “siege” raged.

When they claim the right to vote is under siege, they darn well better show they are doing something about it, else it looks like the president and attorney general are crying wolf, which of course they are.

It’s not for a lack of money either that they’ve done nothing.  The Voting Section at the Justice Department effectively doubled in size when the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act that mandated that every state and locality get Holder’s approval for any election law change in sixteen states.  When the court ruled in June 2013 that the standards for capturing these sixteen states were hopelessly, and unconstitutionally, outdated, half the staff in the Voting Section suddenly had nothing to do.


Were there staff cutbacks?  Did the Justice Department do what any business making an obsolete product would do?  Of course not — this is the government we’re talking about.  Instead, Obama’s budget asked for $103,000,000 more for the Civil Rights Division while slashing funding for the FBI.  Holder’s budget request is asking Congress to fund 179 new lawyers for the Civil Rights Division!

Paging Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Culberson (R-TX, aka Holder’s #1 target) and Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY).

The actual litigation record of the Obama-Holder era of voting rights enforcement since 2009 demonstrates that the president and attorney general are crying wolf about a voting rights “siege,” or they aren’t doing anything about it.  As I’ve written with Hans von Spakovsky, the only area where Holder’s voting rights enforcement record excels is cooking up the numbers to appear they are doing more than they are.

Despite puffery and bluster to the contrary, Obama’s record of bringing cases to protect voting rights is a joke compared to the vigorous and industrious record of the Bush Justice Department. Obama’s record is all talk; Bush’s record was all action.

But talk is the new measure of success in this administration.  I saw firsthand the change in philosophies after the inauguration in 2009.  The age of Bush was about bringing and winning cases anywhere a case could be proven.  The Obama version of voting rights enforcement is to hold meetings, group discussions, more meetings, and an occasional case every few years, all the while convincing your gullible supporters you have resurrected the Voting Rights Act  because voting rights are under siege.


A seventeen-month slumber betrays the lie. A four-year period of inactivity says the Holder’s siege is fiction.  Otherwise Holder could have fought the siege with Section 2 lawsuits.

This lie is especially ironic considering that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan is now overseeing the Voting Section.  Karlan, oft mentioned as a Supreme Court possibility because of her rabid liberalism, was a frequent and dishonest critic of the Bush administration’s civil rights enforcement.

Pam Karlan

Pam Karlan

Karlan published demonstrably false scholarship when she wrote at the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy:

For five of the eight years of the Bush Administration, [they] brought no Voting Rights Act cases of its own except for one case protecting white voters.

As I noted in 2013, Kalan’s scholarship “is demonstrably false; any visit to the DOJ website demonstrates this. . . . Yet the record shows that cases were brought under the Voting Rights Act to protect non-white racial minorities in all eight of the eight years of the Bush administration.”

I contacted the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy about her false scholarship and they said it is up to the author to correct the author’s mistakes.  So far, Karlan has not done so.  Like President Obama and her boss Eric Holder, Karlan suffers no consequences for her dishonesty about voting-rights enforcement.

Instead of issuing apologies and corrections, Holder and Obama and their partners in the permanent race agitation industry have gotten busy agitating.  Getting caught exaggerating never slows them down.   They’ve badgered people like Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA, aka Holder target #2) and demanded meetings from the House GOP whip after it was revealed that over a decade ago he spoke to a crowd not acceptable to the permanent race agitation industry.


Tops on the agenda was to guilt Scalise into supporting restored federal-approval power over state election law changes that the Court struck down in Shelby County.

Scalise will certainly get an earful of Holder’s phony “siege” rhetoric and the president’s claim that too many are being denied the right to vote.  But Mr. Scalise need only look at Holder’s record of inactivity to see that the siege must not be terribly potent.

Instead, Scalise should ignore those who cry wolf.  He should demand answers about why the calls to resurrect federal oversight of state election law changes are built on a lie.  Scalise might talk to congressmen from Ohio who, in the last Congress, cosponsored legislation to resurrect this federal oversight yet were never told that the legislation would capture their own state of Ohio to be placed under DOJ control.

Once upon a time, the civil rights movement held the moral high ground.  Then it became the civil rights industry.  Sadly, today that industry is built on fear, phony rhetoric, and falsity.  President Obama and General Holder are crying wolf about threats to voting rights.  They want to renew federal power over state elections and to keep their political allies in the government fully employed.  They must believe Americans will believe anything.


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