Captain Zero and the Voting Rights Act
When we last saw Captain Zero, he was muddied and bloodied by his loss in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act was – Gasp! – constitutional. Captain Zero’s efforts to defeat the Evil Federal Monster had failed again.
Captain Zero had fought the Evil Federal Monster and its Evil Minions many times before. The Endangered Species Act and Cook Inlet Beluga Whales. The Environmental Protection Agency and Greenhouse Gases. The Department of the Interior and its moratorium on off-shore leases following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The heroic Captain Zero has been tireless in fighting the Evil Federal Monster.
Completely futile, as it turns out, losing every time, but you have to admit he has been tireless.
And now Captain Zero has once again caused the trumpets to sound, and with that suitable fanfare launched a lawsuit against the Evil Federal Monster and Its Minions over the Voting Rights Act. He claims that complying with the Voting Rights Act following his
gerrymandering redistricting efforts nearly disrupted the schedule for the primary election. So what makes Captain Zero’s poor planning grounds for suing the Department of Justice?
WC has reviewed the complaint that the Department of Law has filed and, frankly, it’s not very good. In fact, it’s pretty bad. The details are boring, except to lawyers, so lawyers can go read the complaint and WC will give the Cliff Notes version for non-lawyers.
Captain Zero claims that it is inconvenient and demeaning for Alaska to have to “pre-clear” – give 60 days written notice – the the Department of Justice before changing its election laws. Sorry, Captain. That’s lame. A cover letter and an adequate description and you are good to go. True, it requires elementary time management skills. But if you haven’t got those, that’s not DOJ’s problem. The Captain also complains that that Congress was wrong when it found that Alaska should be subject to the Voting Rights Act, along with all or parts of 15 other states. Of course, the fact that every redistricting plan since Statehood has been to the Alaska Supreme Court – no exceptions – and usually over the impact on Alaska Native representation is just one of those inconvenient facts. But that’s the Captain’s case.
The Captain asks for four kinds of relief, which WC sets out here:
1. Issue a declaratory judgment that Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA are facially unconstitutional.
2. Issue a declaratory judgment that Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA are unconstitutional as applied to the State of Alaska.
3. Permanently enjoin defendant against enforcement of Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA.
4. In the alternative, permanently enjoin the defendant from enforcing Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA against the State of Alaska and its political subdivisions.
So in the first prayer for relief, the Captain demands that because the State of Alaska claims to have bad experiences with Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the whole kit and kaboodle should be thrown out. Not a chance. The Captain, in his mid-boggling way, seems to presume that Alaska’s experience with voting is similar to, say, Alabama’s. Captain Zero must have slept through U.S. History at Pacific Lutheran AND Constitutional Law at the University of Puget Sound. Or he is just pretending that the Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War, and the Civil Rights movement, didn’t happen.
The second prayer for relief is narrower, that the Voting Rights Act be declared unconstitutional as to the State of Alaska. Wait a minute? What about the cities and boroughs? They have to comply, too. Nope, just the State. Odd. And why? Because, among even lamer reasons, the State didn’t allow enough time to pre-clear the State’s shiny new
gerrymandering redistricting plan. What makes Captain Zero’s piss-poor planning a problem for U.S. Courts or the Department of Justice?
The third prayer for relief seeks an injunction against DOJ, to keep them from enforcing sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act at all. Huh? At a time when voter identification requirements are the latest tool in states’ efforts to bar minorities and other notorious Democrats from voting? Does WC smell used teabags?
The final prayer for relief is for an injunction barring DOJ from enforcing sections 4 and 5 against the State of Alaska and its political subdivisions. Hey, this time he remembered the cities and boroughs! Why this time and not earlier? Who knows? The Captain doesn’t say. Maybe it’s just sloppy pleading.
In fact, Alaska does have a history of discrimination as to Alaska Natives. But that was a long time ago. So why not exercise the State of Alaska’s right to “bail out” of the Voting Rights Act? It’s right there in the statute. Is it because there is evidence of racial discrimination, Governor?
WC thinks that Captain Zero’s latest battle with windmills isn’t any more likely succeed than his last five. And WC suspects Captain Zero knows it.