THE EPIC BATTLE HAS BEGUN, writes E.J. Dionne Jr., meaning Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is about to get real in response to the voting restrictions that some states have passed since the Supreme Court struck down a pre-clearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act. Previously, several specific states with a history of voter discrimination based on race had to prove that any changes to their their voting laws wouldn’t have a racially discriminating effect. But now, Dionne writes, it’s looking like these laws will have to be adjudicated one by one, presumably after an election has already taken place, in long, expensive court battles. Just what the Department of Justice likes best!
The North Carolina laws cited by Dionne make no reference to race — they just make voting more difficult for people whose lives are already more difficult than average: those without easy transportation and-or childcare, those whose job schedules are less flexible, the handicapped, the elderly, voters whose polling places tend to have long lines on Election Day.
People in the comments tend to define that group as “the Democrats.” Check out this exchange:
Dionne speaks endlessly of rights and of epic battles. But, he seems to overlook that rights apply to everyone, including republicans and independents. States have rights to set their own electoral districts and determine other voting matters. The DoJ has a responsibility to ensure that those are within the constitutional limits.
What Holder is doing is selecting a handful of states for pre-judgment, essentially prejudicial, legal bigotry. He needs a fair, non-political, transparent process for reviewing all voting changes if he has the staff to do it.
Dionne should be for the rights of all — that’s American. It appears that he is only for the rights of those who would vote for his party.
So you’re arguing that targeted voter suppression is a right that should be protected?
No more than targeted voter protection for political gains is.
These laws might have a disproportional effect on minorities voting — it’s hard to be sure until an election happens — but people on both sides acknowledge that this is a very partisan game. Strategically, the thinking goes, making voting easier will favor Democrats, and making voting harder will favor Republicans.
And because this is on some level pure partisanship, we all need to make it sound like we’re talking about principles.
The Confederates don’t want less government — they want less democracy.
Democrats want more non-citizens and criminals to vote. Conservatives want every legal U.S. Citizen to vote. Big difference.
FaceRealities implies that laws like North Carolina’s will, in the long run, favor the Democratic Party:
“We cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve,” Holder told the National Urban League’s annual conference. Translation: We cannot afford to let go of this critical tool for stoking racial tension and driving Dem turnout.
Woodette thinks the laws help the Dems too, via the same mechanism, but in a much more innocent light:
The more the Republicans try to suppress voters’ rights, the more energized their opposition will become. Remember the little old lady that waited in line for 6 hours to vote? Try to steal something from someone, and they will fight for it.
And DaveoftheCoonties expects the system of checks and balances to emerge again:
I suspect that Holder’s efforts will lead to 5-4 Supreme Court decisions blocking much of the rest of the Voting Rights Act.
Yes, if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that the two major political parties can be relied upon to check and balance each other, maintaining basic overall parity no matter what the voters think. Hooray.