March 5, 2014 4:00 AM
Sensenbrenner on Camera Denies Text of Own Voter Law
Wisconsin Republican seeks to restore racial categories, empower Holder DOJ
By J. Christian Adams
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wisc.) told constituents at Wisconsin town halls that voting-rights legislation he is sponsoring does not exclude white voters from the protection of the Voting Rights Act. Sensenbrenner also says he is proud to work with the ACLU and far-left groups to pass the legislation that would resurrect Attorney General Eric Holder’s powers to block state election laws such as voter ID or citizenship verification.
In a video from Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, Sensenbrenner also accused Texas and Georgia Republicans of trying to stop minorities from voting.
Sensenbrenner is sponsoring a bill to undo the June 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. In Shelby, the Supreme Court struck down the federal mandate requiring 15 states to submit every single election law change, no matter how minor, to Justice Department bureaucrats for approval. Officials in the attorney general’s Voting Section have power to block state election laws — ranging from sensitive matters like voter ID to procedural items such as moving a polling place from a school cafeteria to the school library.
The federal mandate was part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to eradicate Jim Crow barriers to voting. While the law captured most southern states such as Texas and Mississippi, it also captured New York, California, Michigan, South Dakota, and Alaska — though not Sensenbrenner’s home state of Wisconsin. Forty percent of Americans lived in states subject to the federal mandate.
The Supreme Court in Shelby held that the 1965 standards were obsolete, and that any requirement that states obtain federal approval of election changes could only be imposed if Congress found “blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees,” lack of minority office holding, “tests or devices,” “voting discrimination ‘on a pervasive scale,’ or voting discrimination that was “flagrant” or “rampant.”Sensenbrenner’s legislation would immediately return four states — Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana — to federal election receivership.
More states would likely follow, once plaintiff’s lawyers and civil-rights groups commenced election lawsuits against states.
Sensenbrenner’s bill does not impose new preclearance mandates on Wisconsin.
Sensenbrenner’s legislation also includes a provision which strips white voters from protections of the Voting Rights Act – something Sensenbrenner incorrectly told his constituents did not exist on O’Keefe’s video.