ACLU Loses Effort to Keep Non-Americans on Voter Rolls


ACRU Staff


June 10, 2009

The Supreme Court has rejected the ACLU appeal of a Circuit Court decision upholding the Georgia Voter ID law. This law requires new voters to present documentation to show they are both citizens and residents. The ACLU attacked this law, and similar laws in other states, claiming that such laws discriminated against the poor and persons of color.

Most of the facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Atlanta Constitution on 9 June 2009. The article reports that the US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld Georgia’s voter ID law. In short, that law required new voters in Georgia to present photo ID when voting, and presenting specified documents to show that they are citizens of the US and of Georgia, to obtain those IDs.

The ACLU has fought long and hard in both state and federal courts in Georgia to prevent this law from going into effect, claiming that the law “discriminated” against the poor, and persons of color. They even had the nerve to say that this law discriminated against Mexicans because the vast majority of those denied the right to vote in Georgia because they were not citizens, were Mexicans.

This will probably contribute to the defeat of ACLU cases against similar laws in other states, where the legislatures have reached the conclusion that methods should be employed to assure that only Americans vote in American elections. Only a few states have considered such laws to date.

This decision may have a broader impact than just voter ID cases. A separate case has already been argued and is awaiting decision in the Supreme Court, on whether the Voting Rights Act of 1965 remains constitutional. Specifically, that case asked whether Section V of that Act remains constitutional. That Section gives the Department of Justice the power to pre-clear changes in the election laws of several specified southern states which had patterns of racial discrimination a century ago.

Patterns of registration, voting, and election of persons of color all suggest that Section V is obsolete and should now be struck as unconstitutional.

The argument in the other case, and the Courts declination to take this Georgia case (which required only four Justices to vote to take the case), both suggest that Section V is probably going to be struck from the law.

That would question the legitimacy of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision under Section V to bar administratively the Georgia ID law because it “discriminates” against “persons of color.” When any government official takes a position that the Supreme Court has recently rejected, that officials decision is not long for this world.

General Holder’s decision in the Georgia case is the exact opposite of one in the last two weeks not to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party who were video-taped as they “policed” a Philadelphia precinct in uniform last fall. One was armed with a nightstick. Putting those two cases together, it is Holder’s view that the law protects illegal voting by persons of color. But it does not protect “persons of no color” (would that be the correct way of referring to Caucasians?) when they are threatened by persons of color.

The Supreme Court seems to have a far better grip on what is discrimination, and what is simple, common sense, than does General Holder.

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