Merrick Garland's Justice Department Files a Frivolous Political Lawsuit Against Texas to Show the Democrat Base They Are Doing Something

Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP

On Thursday, less than 48-hours after Glenn Youngkin’s boat-racing of Terry McAuliffe went into the history books, Merrick Garland’s Justice Department filed a nuisance lawsuit against the State of Texas over changes to voting laws.

In response to the obvious abuses of the voting process engineered by Democrats in several states (and on several benches) to use the ‘pandemic’ as a tool to successfully cheat Joe Biden into the White House, several state legislatures have passed laws delineating clear rules and procedures for future elections. This is as it should be. The U.S. Constitution invests state legislatures with plenary authority for establishing “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” Executive orders and judges have no business mucking around with established rules a few days before an election or, as in 2020, changing the rules as the election took place.

As is often the case, the Texas Legislature leads a series of commonsense reforms to ensure elections are fair and free from political shenanigans.

Bans 24-hour voting
In 2020, Harris County, the home of Houston, opened eight locations for around-the-clock early voting — an option that was popular with shift workers in the racially diverse county.

Counties will now be prohibited from offering 24-hour voting by a provision that limits the window in which counties can offer voting to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The law also expands the current requirement of at least 12 hours of early voting on weekdays in the second week it’s allowed to include counties with more than 55,000 residents — up from the current 100,000 cut-off.

Bans drive-thru voting
In another provision that targets Harris County, the law prohibits drive-thru voting. In 2020, as local officials sought ways to safely conduct the election amid the coronavirus pandemic, 127,000 people in the county cast their ballots at 10 drive-thru centers — including a parking garage at the Toyota Center, the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

New vote-by-mail ID mandates
Texans who are voting by mail — those who are over age 65, out of the county on Election Day or have a disability or illness that prevents them from voting in person are eligible — will now need to provide either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number twice: once on their absentee ballot application forms and once on the envelope in which they return their ballots.

Those numbers will then be matched against voters’ records to confirm they are who they say they are — a change from the current signature matching process. Those whose votes are at risk of being rejected because of technical errors can make corrections online under the new law. If time is short, counties can notify voters by phone or email that they can cancel their mail-in ballots and vote in person.

Bans officials from mailing unsolicited mail-in ballot applications
The bill would make it a felony for a public official to send someone a mail-in ballot application the person did not request, or to pre-fill any part of any mail-in ballot application they are sending to someone.

It also prohibits public officials from being able to “facilitate” the unsolicited distribution of absentee ballots by third parties — which means local elections officials cannot provide absentee ballot request forms to get-out-the-vote groups. Political parties can still send unsolicited absentee ballot applications, but will have to pay for them, according to the law.
Harris County tried in 2020 to send an application to each of its registered voters, but the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state election code did not allow the mailing of unsolicited applications. And some other counties sent an application to all registered voters who were 65 and older by Election Day, the only age group that is automatically eligible to vote by mail in Texas.

Empowers poll watchers
Partisan poll watchers cannot be denied “free movement” at polling places under the new law — except for being able to watch a voter cast their ballot at a voting station. They are “entitled to sit or stand near enough to see and hear the activity” at the polling place.

Poll watchers are also entitled under the law to watch poll closing activities, “including the sealing and transfer of a memory card, flash drive, hard drive, data storage device, or other medium,” and to follow the transfer of election materials to a regional tabulating center.

In a concession to Democrats, the bill requires training for poll watchers and allows those who break the law to be kicked out of polling places without warning.

New requirements for assisting voters
In provisions that advocates said are barriers to voting, those who assist people with disabilities — other than those voters’ caregivers — will be required to fill out a document showing their name, address and relationship to the person they helped cast a ballot. Assistants would also have to take an oath pledging to obey certain limits to their assistance, promising only to help with “reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot.”

Monthly voter roll checks
The Texas secretary of state’s office will be required to check monthly to make sure no one is on the state’s voter rolls who said they were not a citizen when obtaining or renewing their driver’s license or ID card.

If you do not favor ballot-box stuffing and illegals voting, there is no reason to object to any of this. For me, the question is why the abuses this law fixes were ever allowed to take place. But in the eyes of Merrick Garland’s legal Sturmabteilung, this is all evil.

The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that provisions of Senate Bill 1 will harm eligible Texas residents seeking to exercise their right to vote, including those with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, older voters, members of the military deployed away from home and American citizens residing abroad.

The complaint also argued that, even before Senate Bill 1, Texas had already imposed some of the strictest limitations in the country on granting voting assistance to certain citizens and on mail-in voting, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Laws that impair eligible citizens’ access to the ballot box have no place in our democracy,” Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in a statement. “Texas Senate Bill 1’s restrictions on voter assistance at the polls and on which absentee ballots cast by eligible voters can be accepted by election officials are unlawful and indefensible.”

Facially, the Justice Department’s claim is nonsense. There are literally no barriers placed preventing any eligible voter from voting. In fact, just four months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that the federal government also claimed ‘suppressed’ voting.

Two restrictions were at issue in the case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, No. 19-1257. One required election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct. The other made it a crime for campaign workers, community activists and most other people to collect ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice that critics call “ballot harvesting.” The law made exceptions for family members, caregivers and election officials.

The Supreme Court demolished the challenge to Arizona’s law in a 6-3 decision:

In his opinion, Alito observed that the Supreme Court has never weighed in on a Section 2 challenge to a law regulating the “time, place, or manner” of voting. Rather, voting-rights advocates have typically used Section 2 to bring “vote-dilution” lawsuits – challenges to redistricting maps that are alleged to dilute minorities’ voting power.

The “core” of Section 2, Alito emphasized, is the “requirement that voting be ‘equally open.’” And the determination of whether voting is “equally open” to all, he added, should be made taking all of the circumstances into account.

Alito declined to provide an “exhaustive list” of what circumstances courts should consider to determine whether a law violates Section 2, but he outlined what he described as “several important circumstances” that, particularly when taken together, strongly suggest that it will be more difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in the future in cases arguing that a voting law violates Section 2. He noted first that the size of the burden imposed by a voting rule is “highly relevant.” “After all,” he wrote, “every voting rule imposes a burden of some sort.” “Mere inconvenience,” he added, “cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation of” Section 2.

Courts should also consider, Alito wrote next, the extent to which the voting rule being challenged differs from voting practices in 1982, when Congress amended Section 2 to prohibit any policy or practice that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” “[I]t is relevant,” Alito stressed, “that in 1982 States typically required nearly all voters to cast their ballots in person on Election Day and allowed only narrow and tightly defined categories of voters to cast absentee ballots.” Indeed, Alito observed, “only three States permitted no-excuse absentee voting” in January 1980. Put another way, Alito continued, it is doubtful that “Congress intended to uproot facially neutral time, place, and manner regulations that have a long pedigree or are in widespread use in the United States.”

If a voting rule affects some racial or ethnic groups more than others, Alito continued, courts should consider the size of that disparate impact. Just because there is some disparate impact does not, standing alone, mean that everyone does not have an equal opportunity to vote, Alito made clear. “The size of any disparity matters,” and any comparisons should be “meaningful”: “What are at bottom very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”

Courts should also consider the challenged voting rules in the context of the state’s entire voting system, and the other opportunities that it provides to its voters, Alito noted. Therefore, he wrote, “where a State provides multiple ways to vote, any burden imposed on voters who choose one of the available options cannot be evaluated without also taking into account the other available means.”

Fifth and finally, Alito concluded, courts should look at the reason why states want to impose a particular voting rule. Although guaranteeing that votes are cast freely is “a valid and important state interest,” wanting to prevent voter fraud is, Alito made clear, also a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest.”

This decision slams the door on all the points made in the DOJ complaint, so why did they do it knowing that it will fail?

My guess is there are two reasons behind this.

First, after the thrashing the Democrats took nationwide on Tuesday, the Biden bunch has to do something to convince its base that it a) cares about them and their issues…SPOILER ALert: It doesn’t…and b) it is trying to prepare the battlefield for 2022.

If you read the leftist critique of Tuesday (read the first third of my post titled CNN Story on Milk and Inflation Reveals Progressive Influencers to Be Jerks and Losers as They Trash a Family Trying to Make Ends Meet and AOC Responds to Tuesday’s Election Results and Republicans Should Thank Her), you’ll see that they believe McAuliffe lost because he didn’t push their Marxists and anti-freedom agenda hard enough. So to get them back aboard, Biden has to do something, anything, to show he is with them.

Second, the so-called “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act” is stalled in the Senate. This patently un-constitutional law federalizes all elections in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution and our national traditions, but the left and the national media support it, to the extent one can tell them apart. If the Supreme Court knocks down enough of Garland’s attempts to LARP as a state legislator and change laws, they probably believe that they can make “voting rights” a battle cry in 2022.