The Corner

The Left’s Faux Martyrs Three

Sterling Beard does a great job of exposing the Left’s overwrought rhetoric about North Carolina’s new voter ID law. The faux martyr they presented there to demonstrate the supposed hardships this law imposes is Rosanell Eaton, a 92-year old black woman. Ms. Eaton did, in fact, have to surmount discriminatory election laws decades ago, when she became one of the first blacks to vote in her county after completing a literacy test. 

As Sterling demonstrates, however, the new law presents no barriers to Ms. Eaton. She already has a driver’s license that meets the requirements of the new law. Apparently her name is misspelled on the voter-registration list. That, however, will take all of about five minutes to correct, according to the director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. There is nothing that will keep her from voting when the law takes effect in three years.

Ms. Eaton’s ersatz “victimhood” is of a piece with that of the ACLU’s star plaintiff in the Pennsylvania voter ID case, Viviette Applewhite. Last summer, it took all of 20 minutes for the 93-year-old black woman to get a photo ID at her local DMV — after having told the judge in the case that she couldn’t get one.

Now we have a third faux martyr — this one a casualty of Kansas’s law that requires both voter ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register to vote. The ACLU’s newest aggrieved voter is Aaron Belenky, a 39-year-old computer programmer who recently moved to Kansas City from Seattle. 

Either a passport or birth certificate would satisfy the requirement, and Belenky has both. Yet, he is “offended” by the law. Why? Because, he complains, it would force him to “open and riffle through boxes in his Overland Park apartment” to find his ID. Belenky’s objection, then, is that he would have to unpack sometime over the next twelve months or so.

The ACLU has sent a complaint letter to Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach on Belenky’s behalf. Surprisingly, Hillary Clinton failed to mention Belenky’s dreadful dilemma in her speech in San Francisco when she called laws like the one passed in Kansas “an assault on voting rights” (and obviously an assault on the right to keep one’s apartment stacked with boxes). 

The silliness of these claims defies belief. But it also shows how desperate liberals are to resist voter integrity efforts, when the “best” victims they can come up with are people like Rosanell Eaton, Viviette Applewhite, and Aaron Belenky.

It should also be noted that the ACLU is claiming that Kansas’s requirement of proof of citizenship violates the National Voter Registration Act. The group cites a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Intertribal Council of Arizona, which found a similar Arizona law violated the NVRA with respect to the federal voter-registration form. Kobach disagrees. Yesterday, both Kansas and Arizona filed suit against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in federal district court in Kansas, following the blueprint laid out by Justice Scalia in the Intertribal Council decision for getting such a requirement approved.

Scalia explained that Arizona could require proof of citizenship for anyone using the federal form to register to vote if the EAC, which is in charge of the form, approved such a state-specific instruction. Both Kansas and Arizona sent the EAC letters asking it to approve such instructions on proof of citizenship. However, the EAC cannot act because it has no sitting commissioners.

Scalia recognized that this might happen. In a footnote of the opinion, he explained that if “the EAC proves unable to act on a renewed request, Arizona would be free to seek a writ of mandamus” to compel the agency to act. 

The Supreme Court, Scalia wrote, “need not resolve” the question of “whether a court can compel agency action that the agency itself, for lack of the statutorily required quorum, is incapable of taking.” If the answer to that question turned out to be “no,” he noted, the states “might then be in a position to assert a constitutional right to demand concrete evidence of citizenship apart from the Federal [voter registration] Form.”

With this new lawsuit, both Kansas and Arizona are following through on Scalia’s suggestions. If they cannot get a lower court to order the EAC to let them require proof of citizenship for anyone registering to vote using the federal form, this issue may very well end up before the Supreme Court again.


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