Earlier today, I wrote about the scheduled hearing in a case brought by several left-wing organizations to block three states from taking measures to make sure non-citizens can’t vote in the upcoming elections. The states received permission from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to proceed. The leftist outfits seek to enjoin the EAC’s order.
The Justice Department is, in effect, the lawyer for the EAC. However, it has chosen to tank the case. It “consents” to the motion to enjoin the Commission’s order.
The hearing went forward today. Josh Gerstein of Politico filed this report.
The judge, Richard Leon, didn’t issue a ruling. According to Gerstein, however, he “sounded skeptical about [the] request. . .to block a federal official’s decision to embrace requirements in three states that new voters submit proof that they’re U.S. citizens.” “The thrust” of Leon’s questions to the lawyers “hinted that he was inclined against granting the order,” Gerstein says.
Judge Leon also seemed taken aback that the Justice Department is not opposing the plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin the government. Leon called it “unprecedented” for DOJ to agree to a preliminary injunction blocking a federal official’s decision. “I’ve never heard of it in all my years as a lawyer,” the judge stated.
The same statement applies, I think, to any number of actions and positions taken by the Obama Justice Department under both Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
With DOJ taking the plaintiffs’ side, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach took the lead in defending the proof of citizenship requirement imposed by his state. He also raised the conflict of interest argument (discussed in my earlier post) that stems from allegations that the Justice Department ghost wrote the original EAC decision, which went in favor of the leftist civil rights plaintiffs.
Kobach relied on a statement by EAC’s current executive director and one of its commissioners that DOJ was so involved in writing that 2014 decision that the department had a conflict of interest in deciding whether to defend ECA’s subsequent and contrary action.
Gerstein does not say what reaction, if any, Judge Leon had to DOJ’s apparent commandeering of the EAC, an independent federal agency. “I’ve never heard of this in all my years as a lawyer” seems like a reasonable one.
The judge is expected to rule on the motion tomorrow.
UPDATE: Andrew Kloster at PJ Media has more on today’s hearing.