Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

YES, BUT IT ONLY VIOLATED TWO AMENDMENTS OUT OF 27....Today yet another Justice Department appointee had serious memory problems related to his erstwhile duties in the civil rights section. Nothing new there. Must be something in the DOJ water coolers. But Hans von Spakovsky also had this novel intepretation of the word "correct" when he was questioned about his support of a Georgia law requiring photo IDs of all voters:

Asked about the Georgia ID law, von Spakovsky declined to disclose the legal advice he gave his superiors, saying it was privileged, but he maintained that the department took the correct position because the courts didn't find that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. In overturning the law, the federal courts cited the 14th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, he said.

So I guess as long as the law is only unconstitutional, that's OK. Your Bush Justice Department at work.

Kevin Drum 10:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

Violating only two amendments is a new low for Bush. He should be given credit for that.

Posted by: anandine on June 13, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

A citizen's constitutional right to vote cannot be taken to supersede the President's Commander in Chief authority. We're at war, people! The Constitution is not a suicide pact!

Posted by: mattsteinglass on June 13, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

SC decisions are unpredictable. It's not reasonable to ding anyone who ever took a position that failed to gain a majority of the SC. If that's your standard, you will ding everyone. For example, you would ding every person who though Bush v. Gore was wrongly decided.

The reasonable standard is whether the Bush administration followed court decisions after they were made, which they did.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 13, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

+++ The reasonable standard is whether the Bush administration followed court decisions after they were made, which they did.+++

In other words, in wingnutland a flagrant disregard for the Constitution is just fine as long as you discontinue the unconstitutional behavior after court decisions force you to do so and all avenues of appeal are exhausted.

Posted by: bob on June 13, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal: it wasn't SC. US district court issued an injunction which was upheld on appeal. Next.

Posted by: tonktonk on June 13, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Slow news day, Kevin? Some guy with a German name is being interviewed for a job I've never heard of.

I guess you have to fill in with stuff like this when you can't find mud to sling at the Attorney General, or when the President returns from a triumphal tour of Albania.

Posted by: Al on June 13, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, did Al Gore flagrantly disregard the Constitution when he didn't concede the Bush before the SC decision was made? Of course not. He had every right to plead his case until the SC ruled.

Similarly, Spakovsky had every right to follow the law as enacted until the SC declared that law unconstitutional.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 13, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

You realize that when a state law is challenged the court's start by determining whether the law is constitutional. If it is no need to determine if it violates a federal statute.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 13, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Similarly, Spakovsky had every right to follow the law as enacted until the SC declared that law unconstitutional.

Let's play "How Many Ways I Can Be Wrong And/or Miss the Point In One Sentence" with this one:

Von Spakovsky was instrumental in CREATING the very Georgia law that he then "approved" at the DOJ which was was found to be unconstitutional. He was not "right to follow" it, particularly because career attorneys at the DOJ had told him the law would disenfranchise black voters and it was his explicit responsibility to protect their rights.

It's funny you should mention Bush v. Gore because this weasel was the architect of the voter roll purges that illegally knocked off over 90,00 registered and eligible Democrats from the rolls in Florida and helped steal the election for Bush. This lowlife has made a career of disenfranchising minorities of every stripe - which is why Bush put him in a position where he could continue that practice under the guise of "protecting" them.

Thank you ex-liberal for the opportunity not only to show what a dimwit you are, but to further explore the utter corruption of the Bush mafia in greater detail. I look forward to our next opportunity to work together. You will have been instrumental in exposing Republican mendacity and wrongdoing.

Posted by: tRex on June 14, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Similarly, Spakovsky had every right ...

In the same sense that Bush has the "right" to ignore habeas corpus, the "right" to redefine torture, etc., right up until the moment that all appeals are exhausted and he's forced to stop.

In other words, as I said, in wingnutland a flagrant disregard for the Constitution is just fine as long as you discontinue the unconstitutional behavior after court decisions force you to do so and all avenues of appeal are exhausted.

Posted by: bob on June 14, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

So I guess as long as the law is only unconstitutional, that's OK. Your Bush Justice Department at work.

The problem here is really just perception. If they named it the Injustice Department, nobody would complain.

Likewise, the Dept of Defense should be called - as it once was - the War Dept. Then who could argue with what goes on there?

Posted by: craigie on June 14, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

It's just a goddam piece of paper.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on June 14, 2007 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

This Administration's disdain for the Constitution is painfully obvious. The only Amendment they seem to care about is the Second - and then only the last half of that Amendment. Which corrupts it's original meaning. I hope the incoming Democratic President in 2009 purges every department of government of these pseudo-conservative vermin.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 14, 2007 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

SC decisions are unpredictable.

Unlike "ex-liberal"'s postings...

Posted by: Gregory on June 14, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, you can't expect a Regent legal scholar to get ALL their ducks in a row now.

Posted by: Disturbance on June 14, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell

There wasn't a photo ID stipulation. But the point of the law was to allow citizens to vote, not to come up with new ways to disenfranchise poor and minorities.

I don't think the Voting Rights Act has a stipulation about lynching either, so I guess that would be alright with you. There's even precedent on your side.

Posted by: tomeck on June 14, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Without getting into Al Gore digressions, let's wonder why it is that unconstitutional acts are not punishable. Violate a statute, you get in heaps of trouble; violate the constitution, the worst that happens is you're told you're naughty.

I've been proposing for a while now that lawmakers, at least, should be punished for passing legislation that is later found to be unconstitutional. Put a black mark on the ballot when the run for reelection or something.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 14, 2007 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell, don't be obtuse. If you had ever read any constitutional law, you would understand the interpretation.
You can't use some pretense to force people to pay a poll tax, even if that poll tax is paid at a place other than the polls. So if it costs money to obtain state-authorized photo id, and you require same photo id at the polling place, that is effectively a poll tax.
If/when states agree to provide licenses, photo id, dna tests, retinal scans, or fingerprint cards free of charge, then it's okay. But until then, it's not.
Get with it if you're going to argue here.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on June 14, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration motto ...

"The illegal we do right away, the unconstitutional just takes a little longer."

Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 14, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal should be aware that an attorney who ignores constitutional issues when recommending a course of action may be committing malpractice. (Unless the memo specifically disclaimed analysis of constitutional questions.) Yeah, lawyers' analyses can come to different conclusions - that's why unanimous Supreme Court decisions are rare. However, it isn't a defense to say one ignored the question before recommending action.

Meanwhile, the more basic issue: isn't a good memory a bona-fide occupational qualification for a high government post? Shouldn't this alone disqualify the candidate?

Posted by: RepubAnon on June 14, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal should be aware that an attorney who ignores constitutional issues when recommending a course of action may be committing malpractice. (Unless the memo specifically disclaimed analysis of constitutional questions.) Yeah, lawyers' analyses can come to different conclusions - that's why unanimous Supreme Court decisions are rare. However, it isn't a defense to say one ignored the question before recommending action.

Meanwhile, the more basic issue: isn't a good memory a bona-fide occupational qualification for a high government post? Shouldn't this alone disqualify the candidate?

Posted by: RepubAnon on June 14, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

a triumphal tour of Albania

Whoever wrote that - hilarious! A coffee-spewing moment.

Posted by: chasmrich on June 14, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny. I'm sure he knows than the justification for the VRA giving oversite or pre-clearance power to the DOJ is to enforce the 14th ammendment? This was allowed - ordinarily the states have control over elections, not the federal government - because the 14th ammendment was ignored in Southern states for almost 100 years.

Posted by: jeff on June 14, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Federal employees take this oath, don't they?

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 14, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe, but is it too much to ask, for voters to show picture ID? I would suppose however that few people vote wrongly as if someone else - who has collected the stats and stories, of people who came to vote, and were told "you already did", etc?

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on June 14, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK
Maybe, but is it too much to ask, for voters to show picture ID....Neil B at 2:53 PM
Are you going to furnish that to everyone for free? Otherwise, it is the equivalent of a poll tax.

Proven claims of voter fraud are rare.

...She says proven cases of fraud are extremely rare. For example, Republicans alleged widespread double voting in recent elections in both New Jersey and Connecticut, but investigations found no sign of fraud. Minnite, along with many Democrats, thinks that Republicans exaggerate the extent of fraud to drum up support for proposals to restrict access to the polls, such as a requirement that voters show ID.....
He cited an audit in Utah that found that several hundred non-citizens had registered to vote there. He said 14 had actually cast ballots. Other Republicans note the conviction in Missouri of three people who submitted false voter applications there last year. And they cite Justice Department figures showing 87 convictions for ballot fraud since 2002.
There were 122 million votes in the 2004 election....

On the other hand, there are the kind of voter fraud Republicans love, like Ohio and Florida

...A Cleveland State University Center for Election Integrity study has exposed various election irregularities in Cuyahoga County in the 2006 election. Among the most egregious were the BOE’s failure to secure the dual keys (one for the Dems and one for the Republicans) required for the vote counting rooms; that they allowed shared computer passwords; and that they allowed an unexplained cable connection to the county’s vote counting computer.
...
Massive computer failures during the May 2006 primary led in February 2007 to the resignation of Michael Vu, who was the executive director of the Cuyahoga BOE at the time. Both Bennett and Vu pushed for the $20 million purchase of Diebold voting machines over strenuous objections from election protection activists, whose concerns were cablecast in the HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy” shown nationwide just prior to the November 2006 election.
On March 21, the Dayton Daily News reported that “After two days of tests, the results are in: About 2,500 people cast ballots in November on 56 malfunctioning electronic touch-screen voting machines in Montgomery County, said Steve Harsman, county board of elections director.”
The Free Press has previously reported that there were nearly 30,000 undervotes in Montgomery County during the 2006 gubernatorial race, meaning an abnormallyhigh 13.67% of all voters reportedly recorded no vote for the state’s highest office. (See chart posted with this article at the Freepress.org web site courtesy of Pete Johnson and CASE-Ohio) Similar undervote problems exist in Adams, Darke, Highland, Mercer and Perry counties....

Posted by: Mike on June 14, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a defense of von Spakovsky. Feel free to try to refute it.

Other critics claim that Mr. von Spakovsky ignored concerns that a Georgia law requiring photo ID at the polls would disenfranchise poor and minority voters who have a hard time obtaining documentation. They note that a federal judge twice blocked the law from going into effect.

But yelling "voter suppression" in a crowded congressional theater should be done with caution. In the Georgia case, the federal judge didn't find evidence that the law was racially discriminatory. He struck it down on other grounds. Also, the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday unanimously threw out a separate challenge to the state's photo ID law.

Indeed, courts have tended to uphold voter ID laws. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that had blocked an Arizona ID law. In doing so, the Court noted that anyone without an ID is permitted to cast a provisional ballot that could be verified later. The court also noted that fraud "drives honest citizens out of the democratic process."

Voter ID laws are hardly the second coming of Jim Crow. In 2005, 18 out of 21 members of a federal commission headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker came out in support of voter ID laws. Andrew Young, Mr. Carter's U.N. ambassador, has said that in an era when people have to show ID to travel or cash a check "requiring ID can help poor people." A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last year found that voters favor a photo ID requirement by 80%-7%. The idea had overwhelming support among all races.

One reason for such large public support is that the potential for fraud is real. Many people don't trust electronic voting machines. And in recent years Democratic candidates have leveled credible accusations of voter fraud in mayoral races in Detroit, East Chicago, Ind., and St. Louis.

Last week, election officials in San Antonio, Texas determined that 330 people on their voter rolls weren't citizens and that up to 41 of them may have voted illegally, some repeatedly. In 2004, San Antonio was the scene of a bitter dispute

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 14, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib... Did you know that the Georgia law:

  • Did not have a Provisional Ballot allowance?
  • There are entire Counties where there is no place from which to get a valid ID?
  • Was not altered, as the AZ law, to allow Tribal or other types of ID?

Basically, it found that there was no provision for those who didn't have IDs, no provision for them to get IDs, and then it would cost them money (like a poll-tax) to get it if they could?

That's not so good. Violated several points, only one of which was needed (and used) to strike it down.

If you're willing to freely give everyone photo ID, and have a kiosk in every town and county to get one... Then we can talk.

Posted by: Crissa on June 14, 2007 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

via wikipedia: San Antonio is the second-largest city in the state of Texas and the the seventh most populous city in the United States. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, the city had a population of over 1.2 million.

41 may have voted? May have? Of 1.2 million residents?

Posted by: Crissa on June 14, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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