Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Publication Citation

12 Michigan Journal of Race & Law 513 (2007)

Abstract

This Essay examines recent charges of political motivation against the Department of Justice and its enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. These accusations appear well-deserved, on the strength of the Department’s recent handling of the Texas redistricting submission and Georgia’s voting identification requirement. This Essay reaches two conclusions. First, it is clear that Congress wished to secure its understanding of the Act into the future through its preclearances requirement. Many critics of the voting rights bill worried about the degree of discretion that the legislation accorded the Attorney General. Supporters worried as well, for this degree of discretion might lead to under-enforcement of the Act. Yet Congress chose not to act on those concerns while placing the Department of Justice at the center of its voting rights revolution. By and large, this is the way that the Supreme Court has understood the Department’s role. Second, the currently available data do not support the charge that politics has played a central role in the Department’s enforcement of its preclearance duties. This conclusion holds true for preclearance decisions up until the Clinton years. The data are ambiguous with respect to the Justice Department of President George W. Bush.