Date: February 24, 2016
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Hans von Spakovsky
A number of states have strengthened their election laws. For example, they may require a valid, state issued photo ID or require that only citizens can vote when they use a federally designed registration form. This would seem like common sense to protect the integrity of our election process. However, there’s a battle being waged that would allow non-citizens to vote in the upcoming presidential election and this idea is getting help from the Obama administration.
Hans von Spakovsky joined Jim to discuss this issue. Hans is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department lawyer. He is the co-author of ‘Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk’ and ‘Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department’.
A lawsuit was filed in DC federal court less than 2 weeks ago that impacts this issue. 4 states (Kansas, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona) have had problems with non-citizens who have registered and voted. They’ve all passed laws that say when you register to vote, you must provide proof of citizenship.
These states sent a request to a federal agency in Washington called the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). They’re in charge of the federal voter registration form. The states told the EAC to put instructions on their website that tells residents of these states that if they use the federal form to register to vote, these individuals will also have to comply with state laws and provide proof of citizenship.
The League of Women Voters, NAACP and Project Vote all sued the EAC, saying that they can’t allow these states to enforce the citizenship requirement. They also wanted a temporary restraining order from a judge to stop the EAC from doing this.
A hearing took place on Monday the 22nd. The Justice Department’s job was to defend the EAC yet the Justice Department came in over the weekend and told the head of the EAC that not only would they not defend them, but they would not allow them to hire their own lawyer. The Justice Department defended their position by claiming there’s no legal basis for what the EAC had done.
During the hearing, the Justice Department tried to throw the case. The judge said he’d never seen anything like this in his entire career as a lawyer and in his 14 years on the bench. According to Hans, the judge was shocked that the Justice Department wasn’t defending the case.
In the end, the judge allowed the State of Kansas to bring in their Secretary of State and intervene and do what the Justice Department is supposed to be doing. The Kansas Secretary of State did such a good job defending the case that the lawyer representing the League of Women Voters stooped to comparing what was taking place to something that would be done in Nazi Germany.
On Tuesday, the judge issued an order refusing to issue a temporary restraining order. Another hearing to bring forth further arguments is set for March 9th.
Doesn’t our Constitution grant states the right to do what these 4 states have done? Hasn’t this issue gone before the U.S. Supreme Court before? Are Justice Department lawyers acting unethically in this case? Can Congress intervene in any way? What are the ramifications of this case? Jim has Hans answer these questions while listeners present their own input on this important Crosstalk broadcast.