Squables errupt over Georgia citizenship verification preclearance
A variety of left wing groups are grumbling about the fact that the DOJ conducted a well timed strategic retreat over the Georgia citizenship verification preclearance. The ACLU, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund all filed a pleading protesting the dismissal of the case brought by Georgia. Nothing is quite as nasty as a fight between family members. They argue:
"Although the Attorney General acted within his technical legal authority when he granted expedited preclearance here, this expedited review appears to have been taken at Georgia’s behest solely to prejudice the State’s own citizens who intervened in this case. "
More, the DOJ's actions "were highly irregular, and that the manner in which the administrative request was made and acted upon was calculated to deprive Intervenors [the groups named above] of the opportunity to contest, comment upon, or play any role in the disposition of the voting procedures for which the State had sought preclearance in this Court. The Attorney General’s acquiescence to the State of Georgia’s highly prejudicial maneuvers is inconsistent with the Attorney General’s practice in previous Section 5 actions, and with the Attorney General’s self-defined role as a 'surrogate' for this Court."
There are two things these groups overlook, or don't want to acknowledge:
1. It was a bad objection from Day One. It was interposed during the heyday of lunatics running the asylum in Civil Rights before Tom Perez was confirmed. Loretta "I heart the black panthers" King was the signatory to the objection letter. The objection was bad from the get-go. The current Voting Section chief has forgotten more about Section 5 than Loretta King ever knew. That is not hyperbole or flip. It is true. It is also relevant to understanding an important public policy issue. No doubt the genuine weakness of the objection became clear to those who best understand Section 5.
2. Not only was the bad objection at issue, but so was the whole constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. When a general gets to choose a battlefield on which to fight, he doesn't choose a ravine surrounded by rocky outcrops and only one escape route across a river. You want the high ground with clear fields of fire. The Georgia citizenship verification objection was one of the worst possible fact scenarios to defend Section 5 - and the people most privy to how bad it was (presumably the ones with the internal memos) would be the the ones who blew the retreat. MALDEF and the LDF would never know how tenuous it was because they never did the heavy lifting on it.
And so the groups are upset. A short-lived little spat between friends. But not all is lost. The groups can still put in their fundraising appeals to donors that they "fought!!" against Georgia's citizenship verification plan and I'm sure the dollars will still roll in as much as if they had had overturned the plan. Nobody will know the difference, and Section 5 will still be on the books a few extra months for sure. Reconciliations are sure to follow.