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A development in San Francisco is even more egregious. Beginning June 1, 2012 Sheriff Michael Hennessey will start releasing illegal immigrants arrested for low-level crimes–even if federal officials request that they be held for a deportation hearing. San Francisco’s “sanctuary ordinance” prohibits local officials from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), unless it involves a felony. “It’s an astonishing abuse of his office,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group currently suing San Francisco over a similar immigration issue. Unfortunately, the same DOJ that has struck down portions of state immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Utah is nowhere to be found.
Almost nowhere to be found. Once again in South Carolina, the DOJ blocked that state’s new voter identification law, claiming it discriminates against minority voters. “Although the state has a legitimate interest in preventing voter fraud and safeguarding voter confidence … the state’s submission did not include any evidence or instance of either in-person voter impersonation or any other type of fraud that is not already addressed by the state’s existing voter identification requirement,” wrote Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez. Mr. Perez further contended the law requiring voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls violated Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because 8.4 percent of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10 percent of nonwhite voters.
The Voting Rights act was passed to combat systemic disenfranchisement of minority voters, but applying it here is a dubious exercise at best. In 2005, the DOJ itself approved a Georgia law with the same provisions and protections, and in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that an Indiana law requiring photo ID did not present an undue burden on voters. Furthermore, South Carolina’s law explicitly addresses potential disenfranchisement by offering state-issued IDs free of charge, and free transportation to anyone who needs a ride to a location where a picture ID can be obtained. And if a potential voter lacks a birth certificate, the state will provide a certified copy for $12, either in person, by mail, or by phone for an additional fee of $12.95.
Governor Haley has promised she “will absolutely sue” the DOJ, and on January 10th, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson announced his office will file suit within the next 10 days in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. Suing in DC is aimed at making it easier to get the case before the Supreme Court of the United States, which would then have to consider whether or not it would strike down a law identical to the one it approved for Indiana in 2008.
Buttressing South Carolina’s argument, and undermining progressive claims that voter fraud is virtually non-existent (thus negating the need for picture IDs), was an extensive data review conducted by Department of Motor Vehicles Director Kevin Shwedo into possible voter fraud. “Director Shwedo’s research has revealed evidence that over nine hundred deceased people appear to have ‘voted’ in recent elections in South Carolina,” said Attorney General Wilson who asked for the review. “This is an alarming number, and clearly necessitates an investigation into potential criminal activity. I have asked SLED [State Law Enforcement Division] Chief Keel to review Director Shwedo’s research.”
Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Eric Holder remains determined to stay the course, reiterating the progressive meme that voter ID laws are meant to suppress black turnout. “The right to vote is not only the cornerstone of our governance, it is the lifeblood of our democracy. And no force has proved more powerful, or more integral to the success of the great American experiment, than efforts to expand the franchise,” Holder said during a keynote speech in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Day. “Let me be very, very clear–the arc of American history has bent toward the inclusion, not the exclusion, of more of our fellow citizens in the electoral process. We must ensure that this continues.” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was having none of it. “I signed a bill that would protect the integrity of our voting,” Haley said in a statement welcoming Holder to South Carolina.
In light of these three issues, Rick Perry’s statement was right on the money. The federal government is essentially at war with South Carolina, as well as other states that dare to defy the command-and-control, and possibly unconstitutional, tendencies of this administration. Rick Perry envisions a different future. “When I’m the president of the United States, the states are going to have substantially more rights to take care of their business and not be forced by the EPA, or by the Justice Department for that matter, to do things that are against the will of the people,” he declared on Monday night. Add states’ rights–or a continuing lack thereof–to a long list of issues that will define the 2012 election.
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