Tom ‘banned for life by the SEC’ Horne misleads on the Voting Rights Act

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Editor's Note: I strongly encourage Felecia Rotellini, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, to weigh in on this issue. We will be happy to give you space on the blog if the corporate media will not give you an opportunity to respond.

In The Arizona Republic(an) today, Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne (and under investigation for political corruption) has an op-ed explaining his lame reasons why he filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Arizona in Shelby County v. Holder, seeking to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (the preclearance enforcement provision). Preclearance of voting laws now irrational. "Tommy Boy" would have you believe that it is oh so unfair that Arizona was ever included under Section 5 (by amendment) in the first place, and oh, "states' rights!" (the battle cry of segregationists):

In 1975, the act was amended to include “language minorities.” Any state that had a population of more than 5 percent belonging to a language minority and that did not have bilingual ballots by 1972 would be an included state.

This amendment was reverse-engineered to take in Arizona, which adopted bilingual ballots in 1974, not 1972. Now, more than a third of a century later, we are still being punished for having adopted bilingual ballots in 1974, rather than in 1972.

The definition of language minorities was completely irrational. Less than 2 percent of our citizens can truly be considered to belong to a language minority. They got the figure of over 5 percent by including everyone with a Hispanic last name.

Many people with Hispanic last names have a perfect command of English. To consider them (with most of the 5 percent) as part of a “language minority” needing special protection against voting discrimination is absurd.

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About 40 to 50 Arizona laws must be precleared each year, and the Justice Department form is detailed.

Two lawyers and a paralegal in my office spend their full time on these applications during part of the year, when their time can be much better spent fighting crime. [Or initimidating Tom Horne's political opponents, whatever.]

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[T]he huge and expensive administrative burden of preclearance, which humiliates Arizona by making it say, “Mother may I?” to the federal government every time it wants to change some remarkably minor laws, will have been eliminated. ["States' rights!"]

It is what "Tommy Boy" leaves out of his "states' rights" screed that is important. At any time since 1975 when Arizona was brought under the embrella of Section 5 preclearance, Arizona has had the opportunity to "bail out" of this provision by demonstrating a clean bill of health for non-discrimination for a period of 10 years.

Arizona has never even come close to being able to "bail out" because of discrimination not related to bilingual ballots, but for intentional discrimination in race-based redistricting and voter suppression. Arizona officials watch Supreme Court's voting rights case | Arizona Capitol Times:

[A]dvocates who represent Hispanic and Native American voters in Arizona say that federal review is still very much needed because it is not a thing of the distant past, as opponents claim.

They pointed to the Justice Department’s decision in 2003 to reject the method of election for school board members in Arizona because it unfairly limited the number Native American representatives that could be elected.

Cases like that show the need for continued oversight, said Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, a law professor at Arizona State University who filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of the federal voting law.

She added that election districts in Arizona are routinely rejected by the Department of Justice. She credits the federal reviews for encouraging equality throughout the state.

[I would remind you that the DOJ issued a letter of objection to the Arizona Redistricting Plan in May 2002, finding intentional discrimination in one district and raising concerns about several other districts. That Redistricting Plan did not pass DOJ preclearance until 2004, and was litigated in court for over seven years.]

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Under the 1965 law, states that are subject to review can “bail out” or be released from oversight if they meet requirements that show they are no longer discriminating against voters.

Among the criteria to bail out is a requirement that the state is not facing any lawsuits that allege voting discrimination. This is not the case in Arizona, where the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona is suing the state over 2004 voter ID law, Proposition 200, that is also scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in this term.

Thomas Saenz, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said that federal oversight is actually a more efficient way of protecting voters, because it heads off lawsuits that governments would otherwise have to grapple with.

Even though the federal review is not applied to every state, the decisions made by the Justice Department set precedent that protects votes nationwide, Saenz said.

“It’s a very powerful piece of civil rights legislation,” he said.

Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne is using the pages of The Arizona Republic(an) to mislead people on the Voting Rights Act. This is more evidence of his lack of character, legal acumen, and fitness to hold the office of Attorney General.

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