Eric Holder to states: You all should really think about restoring voting for felons
posted at 1:21 pm on February 11, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
There was a report out yesterday that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled in an interview that 2014 would be his last year in office, but the Justice Department is now pushing back on that report, insisting that Holder’s tenure will continue indefinitely — although why the first-ever sitting attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress is so very at his leisure on the matter, I’m sure I don’t know.
“What I’ve said is, I’m going to be here certainly into 2014. Well into 2014,” Holder said, according to a partial transcript of the interview released today by the Justice Department.
The department provided the transcript to reporters in response to questions about a story in the Feb. 17 issue of the New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin. In the story, Toobin writes, “Holder told me that he will leave office sometime this year.” …
Fallon later issued a statement saying, “The most the Attorney General has said is that he still has a lot he wants to accomplish on issues like criminal justice reform, voting rights and LGBT equality. He did not speak about his plans any further than that.”
What a tease. Anyhow, as Toobin’s interview also suggests, Holder is hoping to make “voting rights the test case of his tenure” — and Holder opened up a new plank on that front earlier today, via the NYT:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday urged states to repeal laws that prohibit felons from voting, a move that would restore the right to vote to millions of people.
The call was mostly symbolic — Mr. Holder has no authority to enact these changes himself — but it marked the attorney general’s latest effort to eliminate laws that he says disproportionately keep minorities from the polls. “It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Mr. Holder said at civil rights conference at Georgetown University. These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.” …
Nearly every state prohibits inmates from voting while in prison. In four of them — Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia — felons are barred from the polls for life unless they receive clemency from the governor. The rest of the country’s laws vary. Some state restore voting rights after a prison sentence is complete. Others require a waiting period. Some have complicated processes for felons to re-register to vote.
My natural inclination on allowing felons to vote, at least on the state and down-ticket level, is to defer to federalism, although it’s most definitely something worth discussing (Sen. Rand Paul certainly has plenty of thoughts on the issue). I have rather a lot of difficulty, however, taking it on good faith from the guy who has made it his personal mission to flat-out persecute states who have the audacity to try and deter the many well-documented incidents of voter fraud with simple voter-ID requirements, what the Supreme Court says be damned (and don’t even get me started on the hypocrisy of his ostensible minority-boosting goals when his own department has also made tamping down on school choice another of their major action-items).