Conservative public interest groups occasionally dabble in election matters. But their efforts, primarily defending Voting Rights Act vote dilution lawsuits, have dismal success rates. The most effective conservative election law effort has been jockeyed by Edward Blum of the American Enterprise Institute. He has bankrolled challenges to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and ensured that brilliant election litigators like Mike Carvin of Jones Day have what they need. But this is one tiny area that barely scratches the surface of the problem.
All of the prevailing winds in election law blow from the left. Instead of condemning New Black Panther Voter intimidation, Kristen Clarke of the NAACP LDF, defended it by seeking to have the Justice Department lawsuit dismissed. Instead of purging Michigan voter rolls of dead and ineligible felons, the Advancement Project sued Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to stop any purge ahead of the 2008 presidential election. Instead of Georgia enforcing a voter photo identification law, the American Civil Liberties Union sues to stop it. Instead of Arizona ensuring that all voter applications are submitted by eligible citizens, groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund have successfully undermined the law.
What lawyers oppose the Advancement Project, ACLU, MALDEF, the Brennan Center, Project Vote, Demos, LULAC and the NAACP when they bring these suits? Often it is government attorneys who rarely litigate such weighty election battles. Sometimes the government lawyers are sympathetic to the plaintiffs.
Millions of leftist dollars pour into election law wars before the lawsuits are brought. After the lawsuits are brought, the leftist groups intervene and swarm like sharks around a flailing victim. Just look at the pleadings and amicus briefs submitted in any major election law dispute. Not surprisingly, the victims often succumb, or accept their fate and die. The Rule of Law often dies along with it.
Leftist election litigators even have their own training academies. One is the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Dozens of lawyers at the most militant groups in the country cut their teeth in the Voting Section at DOJ where I used to work.
After the Obama administration took control of the division in 2009, Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King returned to the Clinton-era policy of refusing to hire anyone but leftists to work in the Voting Section. She implemented policies that placed prior employment with leftist organizations as a uniquely qualifying factor in being hired – even if it was as a volunteer. Only leftists need apply to enforce federal election laws before 2012.
Since the inauguration, the Voting Section at DOJ has seen a hiring blitz of lawyers from the SEIU, Advancement Project, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, international communist groups, the NAACP, as well as those who provided pro bono representation to GITMO detainees. I have reviewed the resumes of every new attorney hire, and they do not contain a single lawyer with a non-ideological or conservative background.
As such, the Obama Justice Department has blocked requirements in Georgia that voters establish they are United States citizens, has sued Rhode Island and Louisiana demanding sweeping changes to push welfare recipients and drug addicts onto the voter rolls, and has failed to bring any lawsuits under federal law to ensure the voter rolls are free from dead and ineligible felons.
The election next year will determine the fate of a nation in a way few elections have. Unfortunately, the election law practitioners who represent the far-left fringe have a mighty head start. Whether they are DOJ attorneys turning a blind eye toward anti-Semitic New Black Panthers, or Soros-funded crusaders enabling voter fraud, hundreds of lawyers will cloak themselves in neutrality while working hard to obtain a particular outcome next November. Nobody should be surprised when they employ every means necessary to achieve exactly what they seek.
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