Black Conservatives Condemn Obama Administration Lawsuit to Allow Election Day Abuses
North Carolina Assault an Affront to Supreme Court, Safe Balloting
Washington, D.C. - In a clear attempt to reclaim and expand its perceived authority to prevent the enactment of election protections, the Obama Administration filed a lawsuit today that challenges new North Carolina ballot safeguards. Coming in the immediate wake of much-needed reform to the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Supreme Court, members of the Project 21 black leadership network decry this effort by Barack Obama and Eric Holder to turn back the clock on necessary protections enacted by states to ensure the integrity of Americans' ballots.
"For Attorney General Holder to sue North Carolina for trying to make sure the state has fair and honest elections is insane," said Project 21's Council Nedd II, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church. "It seems apparent that Holder must think his department has run out of meaningful and substantive issues to address. Really? After all, President Obama — Holder's boss — routinely usurps congressional authority in the implementation of ObamaCare. Prosecute that before prosecuting a good government measure such as voter ID."
In Holder's lawsuit, filed on Monday, September 30, the Obama Administration seeks to invalidate a new law signed into law in North Carolina in August that will require prospective voters to present valid government ID at their assigned polling place in order to obtain a ballot. Holder, in announcing the White House's executive challenge to the democratically-enacted state law, claimed such safeguards would "disproportionately exclude minority voters." The law, however, will not be enforced until the 2016 elections.
"The progressive talking point that voter ID laws disfranchise minority voters has proven to be false on several occasions, and successful implementation of ballot protections in states across the country have proven just the opposite," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "Specifically, when the state of Georgia enacted its voter ID law, increased black voter turnout was recorded. Other states which have recently enacted voter ID laws such as Oklahoma experienced smooth transitions at voting booths without the disenfranchisement routinely argued by liberal special interest groups."
It is unclear if Holder's case will pass the test of judicial scrutiny. In bringing the Voting Rights Act into the 21st century, the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling in the case of Shelby County v. Holder now requires federal authorities to prove in court that minorities are affected by a law rather than the federal government having sweeping, unregulated authority to selectively designate and demonize laws it does not like. Under the Act's now-defunct "preclearance" formula (which the Court asked Congress to redefine), all or part of 16 states were afforded no recourse until the Shelby County decision almost 50 years later reformed this overzealous enforcement regime.
This newest Justice Department move, in fact, seeks to not only impose the same preclearance standards on North Carolina as before, but to further impose the standards on the entire state rather then just 40 of North Carolina's 100 counties.
"Once again, Attorney General Eric Holder is going out on a limb," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor and former leadership aide in the U.S. House of Representatives. "It is easy to claim to his supporters and the media that North Carolina's voting reforms are anti-black, but — in court — he'll have to prove that. Yet another court loss appears to be headed to the Justice Department. As the head of the nation's law enforcement arm, he should know better."
Project 21 filed its own amicus curiae ("friend of the court") legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on the merits of the Shelby County v. Holder case. Previously, Project 21 joined another legal brief that was written by the Pacific Legal Foundation and also joined by the Center for Equal Opportunity that urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
Members of Project 21, the only conservative group on hand for interviews at the Court on the day the case was argued, have been interviewed and cited with regard to the Shelby case over 100 times so far in 2013 alone — including by Reuters, the Westwood One radio network, HBO's "Real Time," CBS Radio, Voice of America, the Chicago Tribune, Blaze TV, the Washington Examiner and in Cal Thomas's widely-syndicated opinion column.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for nearly two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).