From American Progress:
A Damaging Political Infusion
December 13, 2005
On Saturday the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department has begun to ban career staff attorneys from weighing in on major Voting Rights Act cases, allowing political appointees to override any prior decisions. This alarming and unprecedented action comes at a time when our nation’s minority voting rights are being threatened, and concern is mounting over recent voting rights decisions in both Texas and Georgia. The Supreme Court will now consider the constitutionality of the 2003 Texas congressional map drawn by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX).
The new Justice Department policies are undercutting minority voting rights.
Recent conduct by Justice Department political appointees shows their desire to advance a right-wing ideological agenda at the expense of traditional and broadly-supported civil rights protections that have protected millions of Americans from discrimination at the polls.
The cases in both Texas and Georgia illustrate the right wing’s willingness to do anything to get and maintain power. Georgia's voter identification law requires people without driver's licenses to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. This law affects "a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly" and has been compared to a "Jim Crow-era poll tax." The Supreme Court will decide if the Texas map was unconstitutional because it violated the Voting Rights Act, or because redistricting occurred twice within a 10-year census cycle. Justice Department lawyers had argued that it illegally diluted minority voting power.
The Justice Department has infused politics into an issue that has no business being political. The decision puts the interests of those in power ahead of doing what’s right for the voting public, and shows that their political agenda is more important than the voting rights of the American people. Lifelong Justice Department officials have found themselves shut out of the decision making process in the Georgia case and their opinions in the Texas case were simply ignored.