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Monday, June 14, 2021

The Attorney General on Voting Rights

I want to draw attention to Attorney General Garland's statement on Friday about voting rights. Leave aside what you think of his proposals or how they fit within the broader picture on voting rights. His account of the history of voting rights is splendid. Among the highlights:

1. "Representative John Bingham--the principal author of the Fourteenth Amendment--called the right to vote the source of all institutions of democratic government."

2. Garland explains that the DOJ was created in part to enforce the First Ku Klux Klan Act and singles out Attorney General Amos Akerman, who was a champion of voting rights enforcement his all-too-brief tenure in the early 1870s. 

3. Garland also singles out by name DOJ stalwarts like John Doar, Burke Marshall, and Drew Days in their work on behalf of voting rights as part of a discussion of the case law.

The speech is well worth your time.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on June 14, 2021 at 08:14 AM | Permalink


Double staffing is a possible step in the right direction, but I don't want my sleep disturbed until arrival. I also can't help but get a little discouraged when I hear tracking down the leaker(s) to ProPublica is a (perhaps not *the*) top priority. As you said, we'll definitely see—that is the believing part.

Posted by: hardreaders | Jun 14, 2021 1:29:48 PM

Double staff, you probably will have some results -- they will be there to do things. We shall see how it goes.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 14, 2021 1:15:50 PM

Statements are always lovely. Now, please wake me up once there are some actual concrete results.

Posted by: hardreaders | Jun 14, 2021 12:40:41 PM

Provide history, spell out possible problems, and then note you will double staff to deal with voting matters.

Good move and one that maybe shouldn't have been done on a Friday, when many might not be paying attention.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 14, 2021 10:41:19 AM

Great speech indeed. And in more practical terms, I quote:

" And because the upcoming redistricting cycle will likely be the first since 1960 to proceed without the key preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, we will publish new guidance to make clear the voting protections that apply to all jurisdictions as they redraw their legislative maps.

Under the supervision of the Deputy and Associate Attorneys General, the department will implement its responsibility under Presidential Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting. Those include ensuring access to voter registration for eligible individuals in federal custody. They also include assisting other federal agencies in expanding voter registration opportunities, as permitted by law.

We will also work with Congress to provide all necessary support as it considers federal legislation to protect voting rights. Although we will not wait for that legislation to act, we must be clear-eyed: the Shelby County decision eliminated critical tools for protecting voting rights. And, as the President has said, we need Congress to pass S.1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would provide the department with the tools it needs.

We will also partner with other federal agencies to combat election disinformation that intentionally tries to suppress the vote.

Finally, we have not been blind to the dramatic increase in menacing and violent threats against all manner of state and local election workers, ranging from the highest administrators to volunteer poll workers. Such threats undermine our electoral process and violate a myriad of federal laws.

The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, together with the department’s National Security and Criminal Divisions, the 93 United States Attorneys, and the FBI, will investigate and promptly prosecute any violations of federal law."


Posted by: El roam | Jun 14, 2021 10:21:57 AM

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