DOJ declined to file a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act asserting that the deliberate racial discrimination by the “native people” of Guam violated federal law. As we know from the sworn testimony of former Voting Section chief Christopher Coates before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, deputy assistant attorney general Julie Fernandes informed him that it was the policy of the Obama administration that the Voting Rights Act is not to be enforced against racial minorities, no matter how egregious the violation. As CIR president Terence Pell says, the fact that this racial discrimination “continues to take place under the nose of the U.S. Department of Justice is unconscionable.”
As the federal lawsuit outlines, in holding a “Chamorro-only” election, Guam is violating the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and the Organic Act of Guam. As Davis says, it’s pretty clear that the intent of this discrimination is “to empower fewer than 40 percent” of the island’s population to make “a profoundly important political decision” about Guam’s future — similar to how white officials tried to prevent black citizens from having any say in the “profoundly important political decisions” the South faced in the century following the Civil War.
J. Christian Adams has had lots of experience with the racialist attitude of lawyers in the Justice Department. But as he points out, all citizens are protected by the Voting Rights Act and the “guarantees of racial fairness in the 15th Amendment.”
What is tragic (and infuriating) about this lawsuit is not just that the government of Guam believes it can engage in such flagrant racial discrimination without consequence, but also that the Justice Department agrees. Fortunately, CIR and Adams have stepped up to try to protect Mr. Davis and his fellow Guam residents.
As Terence Pell says, either the Justice Department “is serious about enforcing the constitutional guarantee of non-discrimination on behalf of all its citizens or it is not. If it is not, then those guarantees mean little.” It’s become shamefully apparent that this administration isn’t serious about enforcing those guarantees if you happen to be the wrong race, which is a profound betrayal of this nation’s pursuit of equal justice under the law.
— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He is a former FEC commissioner and counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.