DOJ’s Decision to Challenge South Carolina Voter ID Law Questioned
by Lamar Smith on September 24, 2012 at 7:24 PM
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, I questioned the decision of Obama administration officials to challenge South Carolina’s voter ID law. I was joined in sending the letter by two Judiciary Committee members, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
In 2011, South Carolina enacted a law to prevent voter fraud by requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls. The ID is free and anyone with a reasonable impediment to obtaining the ID may vote after completing an affidavit. South Carolina is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and therefore had to seek approval from the Justice Department before implementing the law. According to recent reports, career staff in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division reviewed the state’s statute and recommended that it be approved by the Justice Department. But despite preclearance of career staff, senior Obama administration officials overruled the decision and moved to block implementation of the law.
It is troubling that scarce funds are likely being wasted opposing common sense legislation that was cleared by the Department’s own nonpartisan experts. We must understand the Department’s rationale for fighting this law when experts within DOJ deemed it acceptable. Taxpayer dollars are not meant to be spent on partisan projects by the Administration.
We requested that the Justice Department provide a full accounting of the costs spent to date in defending the Department’s decision to block the South Carolina law. Oral arguments in the case challenging DOJ’s decision took place today before a panel of judges in Washington, D.C.