The Washington Post had an article today about the grilling that Hans von Spakovsky is likely to get next week when he has his Senate confirmation hearings for his nomination to the Federal Election Commission. He’s one of the veterans of the Civil Rights Division who has been targeted by liberal ex-career lawyers there, liberal interest groups (where many of them now work), and their Hill allies; see my NRO column earlier this week.
The Post article identifies three cases on which von Spakovsky worked at DOJ that “voting rights activists have found most objectionable.”
The first is a case where the Justice Department decided that a Georgia photo ID statute did not violate the anti-racial discrimination protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; the Post says, “The Georgia photo ID statute was struck down by a court.” But the court struck it down, not under Section 5 and not because of its racial impact, but under other laws on the grounds that it violated the rights of the poor and the elderly–issues not before the Division. Strike one.
The second is a case where, “With von Spakovsky’s backing, the Justice Department unsuccessfully sued to purge the voter rolls in Missouri.” There the district court ruling, which is currently on appeal, was not on the merits, but on the grounds that the proper parties were the counties rather than the state. Successful lawsuits of this kind have been filed against the states of Indiana and New Jersey. Strike two.
Third: “He also supported a mid-decade redistricting in Texas that a court rejected.” Here again, the Justice Department’s action was based on Section 5, a different statute than the one the Supreme Court (“a court”?) ruled on, which is Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The rationale for the court’s ruling under Section 2 involves a criterion that is not considered under Section 5; in all events, the Court’s ruling was close (5-4), and most of the challenged plan was upheld. On the Section 5 issue, the position that von Spakovsky took was exactly right, as I explained in an NRO article last year. Strike three.