DOJ Rejects S.C. Voter ID Law — Again
On Friday U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez responded to South Carolina's request it reconsider an objection to the state's Voter ID law
It looks like South Carolina's Voter ID law will get a day in court after Assistant U.S. Attoney General Thomas Perez again shot down the law under the voting rights act on Friday.
In a letter dated June 29, Perez responded to South Carolina's request that the Justice Department reconsider its objection to the law based on the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Perez maintained that expert opinion on the law as passed makes a persuasive case that minority groups will be disproportionately affected by the new law, which runs affowl of the Voting Rights Act.
"We have reconsidered our earlier determination in this matter based on the information and arguments you have advanced in support of your request, along with the other information in our files and comments received from other interested persons. In this instance, the information obtained from state officials was drawn from the deposition testimony and other evidence in State of South Carolina v. United States, 1:12-cv-00203 (D.D.C.), the pending declaratory judgment action seeking judicial preclearance for these changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
"Several of the experts reports produced in the case helped inform our analysis. Dr. Charles Stewart's analysis of Act R54's effect on the ability of minority voters to participate effectively in the political process was particularly persuasive in showing that Act R54 will have a discriminatory effect under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In addition, we found the expert reports by Dr. Ted Arrington and Dr. Orville Burton to be particularly persuasive in showing that Act R54 was enacted with a discriminatory purpose. In light of these considerations, I remain unable to conclude that the State of South Carolina has carried its burden of showing that the submitted change in Section 5 of Act R54 neither has a discriminatory purpose nor will have a discriminatory effect. Georgia v. United States, supra; 28 C.F.R. 51.52. Therefore, on behalf of the Attorney General, I must decline to withdraw the December 23, 2011 objection to Section 5 of Act R54."
Following the DOJ objection to the law last December, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson vowed to file suit over it. That lawsuit was filed on Feb. 7.
"The DOJ has refused to allow South Carolina to enact its Voter I.D. law, claiming it does not adequately protect voters from discrimination, per the 1965 Voting Rights Act," Wilson said in a release at the time. "However, very similar laws have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court (in the case of Indiana), and even pre-cleared by the DOJ itself (in the case of Georgia)."
Wilson also requested the DOJ reconsider its objection, which led to Perez' latest letter.
A three judge panel will hear the case later this month in federal court.
Wilson and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley were not immediately available for comment.