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Is Eric Holder The Worst Attorney General Ever?

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Hypocrisy and Race in Eric Holder’s Justice Department

In his three plus years as President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder is quickly making a claim for the nation’s worst head of the Justice Eric HolderDepartment - in history.

Mr. Holder, before being named Attorney General, already had the dubious distinction of being one of the central players in Bill Clinton’s notorious pardon of the 47 million dollar tax cheat billionaire, Marc Rich. Since then, Eric Holder’s Justice Department encouraged a civilian trial for 9/11 mastermind, Kalid Shaikh Mohammed in Manhattan federal courtroom. His Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Arizona for passing its tough illegal immigration law, even though the Supreme Court found its most controversial provision, the right of police officers to question the legal status of people with reasonable suspicion, constitutional.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. House cited Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents about a federal gun operation, Fast and Furious, which play a part in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. This is the first time a sitting Cabinet member has ever been cited in contempt of Congress. Some say that this cover up could be President’s Obama’s Watergate.

Now the Justice Department has its eyes on a Texas law that requires voters to present a photo ID—and race has everything to do with this attention. The law passed in 2011 and aims to prevent voter fraud. In March, the Justice Department moved to block it, saying it discriminated against minorities by making it more difficult for them to vote. The Obama administration has also moved to block a voter ID law in South Carolina, a case that will be heard next month.

Last Tuesday at the NAACP Convention, Holder displayed his disdain for the law in front of the receptive audience,  comparing the new Texas voter ID law to the post-slavery efforts to keep blacks from voting known as a “poll taxes”

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Ironically, as Town Hall’s Katie Pavlich points out, what did media need in order to attend? That's right, government issued photo identification (and a second form of identification too)!

So, if a member of the media wants to witness a speech hosted by the NAACP against discriminatory nature of photo IDs, one needs to possess the damning instrument of repression just to attend! I cannot make this up—here is the press release:

All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver’s license) as well as valid media credentials. Members of the media must RSVP to receive press credentials at http://action.naacp.org/page/s/registration. For security purposes, media check-in and equipment set up must be completed by 7:45 a.m. CDT for an 8:00 a.m. CDT security sweep. Once the security sweep is completed, additional media equipment will NOT be permitted to enter and swept equipment will NOT be permitted to exit.

I wonder if any members of the media felt disenfranchised because they could not attend the event because they lacked the necessary identification. I expect the Justice Department to file suit on behalf of these poor souls whose civil rights were so blatantly violated by the NAACP and its keynote speaker, Eric Holder, head of the Justice Department.

Seriously though, this example illustrates the flaws in Holder’s arguments against voter ID laws.

Photo IDs and the requirement that they be shown are ever-present in our society — from cashing a check, to taking the SAT, to boarding a plane, to entering Eric Holder's own Justice Department. Yet Holder, who once said criticism of him and his boss, President Obama, was due to their skin color, sees racism in Texas' move to guarantee the sanctity of the ballot box.

Requiring some kind of photo identification to prove your identity when voting was one of the proposals made in 2005 by the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, two individuals who are certainly not known for racist inclinations.

News segments discuss regularly whether existing voter laws adequately protect minority, poor, and elderly voters.   However, less attention is given to the problem of voter fraud.  The right to vote in the U.S. includes the right not to have that vote diluted or negated by fraudulent votes.  In Harris County, Texas, voting irregularities have raised serious concerns over election integrity.

In 2008, between 160,000 and 333,000 non-citizens were illegally registered to vote in Texas.

The impact of election integrity has been widely researched. One study conducted by University of Missouri in 2006 found that voter turnout improved with the new photo ID requirements. Another study completed by the Universities of Delaware and Nebraska had similar findings, concluding that there was no significant evidence of decreased turnout in precincts with higher percentages of minority, poor or elderly voters.

If the attorney general was really concerned at voting rights, he would have actually done something about a legitimate case of voter intimidation. In November 2008, in front of a polling location at 1221 Fairmount Avenue, New Black Panther members Jerry Jackson and King Samir Shabazz showed up at a polling place dressed in their trademark black uniforms. Shabazz brandished a nightstick, and the two men made intimidating remarks to both white and black voters.


In 2009, the Justice Department was pressured into acting against the two Black Panthers at the polling booth. Some charges were later narrowed and most were withdrawn. This light touch prompted internal and independent investigations into why the Black Panthers were not brought to justice.

Attorney J. Christian Adams, who resigned from the Justice Department in 2010 to protest the handling of the Black Panther case, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that he was told “cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims.”

So unless acquiring a government-issued ID is a larger obstacle to voting than a nightstick- wielding thug I would say it is Mr. Holder and his Department of Injustice who are seeing the world with race-colored prisms and not the lawmakers of Texas and other states who simply desire to limit voter fraud.

Photo of Eric Holder by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice

Contact Erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com

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