Politics & Policy

Voter ID Is Not Jim Crow

In a speech at the LBJ Library at the University of Texas–Austin, Attorney General Eric Holder attacked efforts by state legislators to ensure the integrity of the ballot box. In a setting obviously designed to evoke Lyndon Johnson’s historic signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Holder railed against voter-ID laws and other election-reform measures. While minimizing the danger of fraud, Holder seemed oblivious to the irony of doing so at the LBJ Library: It was, after all, the infamous Ballot Box 13 and the stolen 1948 election that launched LBJ’s political career.

As the government’s chief lawyer, Holder is tasked with enforcing federal election laws in an objective, nonpartisan, race-neutral manner. Instead, Holder parroted the talking points of the Democratic National Committee and racial-grievance organizations, falsely comparing voter-ID requirements and other election reforms with the violent efforts of state officials to keep black citizens from the polls a half-century ago. Holder claimed that such practices “remain all too common.”

This comparison insults the heroic work of so many who helped end the injustices of Jim Crow. It is also quite ironic to hear Holder refer to the fire hoses, bullets, bombs, and billy clubs that voters had to confront in the 1960s, given that his Justice Department dismissed the voter-intimidation lawsuit it had won by default against the New Black Panther Party and its billy-club-wielding thugs, who menaced voters in Philadelphia in 2008. His Justice Department has made it clear that it does not believe in the race-neutral enforcement of our voting-rights laws.

Holder also incorporated into his speech Rep. John Lewis’s absurd claim that election-reform efforts are “a deliberate and systematic attempt to prevent millions” of minority and other voters from going to the polls. This shows how the paranoid fantasies of the Left infect the attorney general and his entire department. Voter-ID laws have been in place in Georgia and Indiana for more than five years, and none of the hysterical claims made by opponents have materialized. As NRO has documented, turnout of minority voters did not decrease in those states — it increased significantly. Voters certainly disagree with Holder: Polls show overwhelming support for voter-ID laws across racial, ethnic, and party lines.

Holder said that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division would “thoroughly” review these state policies and “apply the law.” But if that were an accurate description of how Holder’s Civil Rights Division evaluates voting laws, the voter-ID laws submitted by Texas and South Carolina for review under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would have already been approved.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s voter-ID law was constitutional, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals approved Georgia’s voter-ID law as nondiscriminatory. In fact, the Justice Department itself cleared Georgia’s law under the Voting Rights Act. Both of these laws are similar to the Texas and South Carolina policies that are now under review. Holder’s disregard of precedent is an improper and rank politicization of the process.

Holder’s foolish imaginings about voter-ID requirements should come as no surprise. After all, the government-transparency group Judicial Watch has discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that the White House and the Justice Department have been consulting with — and getting recommendations on new hires from — current and former officials of ACORN, dozens of whose employees have been convicted of voter fraud.

Holder’s attitude should concern all Americans who want next year’s elections to be fair, secure, and overseen by an impartial and professional Department of Justice.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More
World

How Trump Changed U.S. Foreign Policy

On September 16 the editorial board of the New York Times did the impossible. It said something nice about President Trump. “The normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, is, on the face of it, a good and beneficial development,” the editors wrote. ... Read More
World

How Trump Changed U.S. Foreign Policy

On September 16 the editorial board of the New York Times did the impossible. It said something nice about President Trump. “The normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, is, on the face of it, a good and beneficial development,” the editors wrote. ... Read More