Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Kenneth A. Klukowski.
Protecting the integrity of the ballot box is essential to our democracy. Laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls are commonsense measures to prevent fraud and corruption, and ensure that each year's election returns accurately reflect the will of the people.
Yet President Obama's administration and political allies are pursuing a dual-track approach to vilify such tools, in a crass political ploy to aid the president's reelection.
In 2008, the Supreme Court held in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that Indiana's voter-ID law is constitutional. The Court noted that the challengers could not produce a single voter disenfranchised by that law. Now thirty-two states have voter-ID laws to protect their electoral process.
Nonetheless, when southern states have passed these laws, Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to block these measures as having the effect of disparately impacting racial minorities. Mr. Holder has blocked laws in Texas and South Carolina, and litigation is now underway.
Section 5 specifies that certain southern states that suppressed minority voting half a century ago must obtain preclearance from the Justice Department or the federal district court in Washington, D.C., before changing their voting laws. Even the liberal Warren Court upheld Section 5 in the 1966 case South Carolina v. Katzenbach only because endemic racial hostility at that time justified extraordinary federal power under the Fifteenth Amendment, and indicated that if American society progressed, such continued federal supervision over this quintessential state function would no longer be constitutional.
Today an African-American can be elected president of the United States, or serve in top Cabinet posts, congressional leadership, or the Supreme Court. So in 2009 the Supreme Court signaled that it was ready to reconsider Section 5's validity. A case currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Shelby County v. Holder, may provide that opportunity next year.
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