DOJ forces town to put party labels on candidates for racial reasons

A small North Carolina city is getting a taste of what life is like now that the Justice Department is run by Attorney General Eric Holder. When the city voters decided to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, the Justice Department came down on them like the proverbial load of bricks.

The Department overruled the decisions of the voters and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without candidates being clearly labeled as Democrats. Ben Conery of the Washington Times reports:

The Justice Department's ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their "candidates of choice" - identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters' right to elect the candidates they want.

Stephen LaRoque, a former Republican state lawmaker who led the drive to end partisan local elections, called the Justice Department's decision "racial as well as partisan."

"On top of that, you have an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., overturning a valid election," he said. "That is un-American."

The decision, made by the same Justice official who ordered the dismissal of a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, has irritated other locals as well. They bristle at federal interference in this city of nearly 23,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.

The decision was made by the same Justice Department person who ordered the widely criticized dismissal of a voting rights (voter intimidation) case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.

The rationale is that African-American candidates (presumably Democratic) can only win if white voters support candidates that they are informed are Democrats (by noting their party on ballots). The stereotypical view of African-Americans (that they are Democrats) is insulting. So is the paternalism. So is the dismal view of the intelligence of voters (who apparently are incapable of informing themselves regarding the views and history of candidate - despite the small size of the community).  Both African-Americans and whites gave broad support to eliminating the labeling of candidates. The Justice Department sent the city (Kinston, North Carolina) of stern letter:

"Elections must remain partisan because the change's "effect will be strictly racial."

"Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office,"

Ms. King wrote that voters in Kinston vote more along racial than party lines and without the potential for voting a straight Democratic ticket, "the limited remaining support from white voters for a black Democratic candidate will diminish even more."

Ms. King justified her view by stating that black voter turnout is lower than white turnout so the city needed to identify the party affiliation of candidates so that white voters will support Democrats (whom, she assumes will be Democrats). African-Americans account for 9,702 of the city's 15,402 registered voters but turnout has been a problem, apparently.

The decision has been criticized.

Mrs. Thernstrom of the civil rights commission blasted the department's interpretation of the law.

"The Voting Rights Act is not supposed to be compensating for failure of voters to show up on Election Day," she said. "The Voting Rights Act doesn't guarantee an opportunity to elect a 'candidate of choice.'

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 empowered the Justice Department to cast a wide glance at potential violations of voter's rights in jurisdictions throughout the South.  States subject to the purview have long seen the Act as a bludgeon that insults their region and does not recognize the vast changes that have revolutionized racial relations in the South.  There is a reason that Lady Justice is blindfolded - justice is supposed to be administered in a non-biased way (not based on race or party affiliation, for that matter).

When Eric Holder delivered his maiden speech to the Justice Department he made it clear that he felt his mandate was to stamp out every last vestige of racism - real or imagined - in the nation. He disparaged Americans as a "nation of cowards" for refusing to discuss race. He has beefed up the number of employees in its civil rights department. Now it seems as if he will also be devoting the department's resources to help tip the scales of justice.

Racism - and partisan politics and a prejudiced view of the South - seem alive  and well in Eric Holder's Justice Department.


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