Federal judge chastises DoJ in noncitizen voter registration case

Yesterday, I asked:

Can you say, “The fix is in”?

And it appears that federal district court Judge Richard J. Leon had the same worries, based on how he treated lawyers from the Department of Justice yesterday in a hearing

The Department of Justice shamefully has been trying to default on its duties and allow an action brought by left-wing groups proceed and overturn a ruling that would prevent noncitizens from registering to vote.  The details of the case, involving the U.S. Electoral Assistance Commission (EAC), are complex, and explained in my blog yesterday, and in greater detail by Hans von Spakovsky of National Review, on whose original reporting I relied.  The DoJ is charged with defending the EAC but is behaving as if it doesn’t want to.  Judge Leon was not pleased, and he showed it emphatically yesterday.

In essence, the EAC – an independent commission with equal representation of both political parties – reversed a ruling undertaken by a bureaucrat serving as an acting  executive director, and the left-wing groups are asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and permanent injunction (PI) preventing the EAC from allowing states to verify citizenship before registering voters (despite the fact that the Constitution gives states the responsibility for determining who may vote).

Reporting on the hearing yesterday, von Spakovsky writes at National Review:

The hearing was over the temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction (PI) being sought by the League of Women Voters and a host of other leftist groups to stop the recent decision of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to allow Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona to enforce their proof-of-citizenship voter-registration requirement. (snip)

… the U.S. Justice Department took a dive and filed a pleading in which it not only failed to defend the actions of the EAC, but agreed with the plaintiffs and consented to both a TRO and a PI. Judge Leon called the pleading “unprecedented” and “extraordinary.” He said he had never seen such a document in his entire experience as a lawyer or a judge. He was obviously astonished that the Justice Department was not defending the agency, and it was soon clear he was not going to allow DOJ to just roll over.

In order that both sides be represented – that is, that the DoJ not be allowed to default:

The judge issued orders just before the hearing started granting the motions of both the State of Kansas and the Public Interest Legal Foundation to intervene in the case in order to defend the EAC’s position. So Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, was given time to argue against the TRO motion, as was Christian Adams of PILF. The judge opened the hearing by reading into the record an astonishing letter he had just received from the chair of the EAC, Christie McCormick. It informed the court that DOJ had told the EAC that it would not defend the agency, and that it would not allow the EAC to hire its own counsel. McCormick informed the judge that she believed DOJ was not fulfilling its duty and obligation to defend the EAC and had a potential conflict of interest. It was clear that Judge Leon was shocked at what DOJ had done. While he gave the plaintiffs 20 minutes to argue their case, he gave the lawyer from the Federal Programs Branch of DOJ only five minutes because he said that DOJ was obviously on the same side as the plaintiffs.

There is much more that happened of an extraordinary nature, include a resort to playing the Nazi card.  No kidding!

Read the whole thing.

And say a prayer for the health of Judge Leon.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman