The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday.Did the Justice Department just decide that it is legal to discriminate against minorities for purposes of obtaining a drivers license, purchasing firearms, buying liquor and tobacco? It certainly sounds like it. Or will they now go after the requirements to show ID for these purposes next? I'm not holding my breath...
The decision places the federal government squarely in opposition to the types of voter ID requirements that have swept through mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures.
Officials in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division found a significant racial disparity in the data provided by South Carolina, which must have changes to its election laws precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of past history of discrimination. The data demonstrated that registered non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo identification required to exercise their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to South Carolina and obtained by TPM.
Because Justice Department lawyers reached the conclusion that South Carolina’s voter ID law would have the effect of suppressing minority voter turnout, they found it was unnecessary to examine whether that was the intent of the legislators who voted for the law. Cases based on intent to discriminate are usually more difficult to prove even though they don’t require the government to prove the effect was discriminatory.
UPDATE: Aha! I beat Glenn Reynolds to the point!