DOJ Wins Mississippi White Voter Suppression Case
In May 2006, Perrspectives detailed the one of the few efforts by the Bush Department of Justice to fight election bias. In a tragi-comic inversion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the DOJ argued that the African-American Democratic Executive Committee chairman in Noxubee County Ike Brown led an effort to suppress the vote of white residents. As it turns out, on Friday a federal judge agreed that white voters were subjected to discrimination based upon their race.
Given the U.S. attorneys scandal and the Bush adminstration's consistent effort to suppress minority voting, Americans could be forgiven for their skepticism regarding the Mississippi case. The Bush DOJ, after all, has not brought a suit on behalf of disenfranchised black voters since 2001. Far from backing African-American claims of voter suppression and intimidation, Alberto Gonzales has spurned enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia.
Spurned enforcement, that is, except where the alleged victims were white and almost assuredly Republican voters. U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee ruled that there was "ample direct and circumstantial evidence of an intent to discriminate against white voters which has manifested itself through practices designed to deny and/or dilute the voting rights of white voters in Noxubee County." That may well be true, but it's no wonder Wan J. Kim, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's civil rights division, lauded the decision.
As I wrote in March, voter suppression is at the heart of Alberto Gonzales' prosecutors purge:
[The dismissals of U.S. attorneys] reveal more than a White House determined to enforce loyalty to President Bush and entrench partisan Republican hatchet men throughout the DOJ's ranks. Simply put, the Bush White House planned to systematically drive down the turnout of Democrats and independents at the ballot box through an unaccountable campaign against "voter fraud." And as I wrote last November, suppressing potential Democratic voter turnout (along with mobilizing its own right-wing base) is one of the two essential prongs of the Republicans' electoral strategy of "Divide, Suppress and Conquer."
For more background on the Republican war on voting rights, see: