U.S Representative Dean Phillips wrote to constituents last September that he voted in favor of HR4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, “to do everything possible to ensure our elections are safe, secure, accessible, and fair.” He claimed that it would ensure ALL [his emphasis] eligible Americans are able to vote.
He included a link to a WCCO radio interview during which he stated that “it is time that we recognize that especially in part of the south and other parts of the country that voting is not easy.” He went on to say,” Laws are in place to make it hard, to disenfranchise people.” Phillips never cited a specific example of where eligible Americans are denied the ability to vote, or exactly how these states are making it "hard" to vote.
While professing to be non-partisan, his comments are straight out of the Democratic Party playbook. These “voting rights” bills are designed to eliminate voting suppression measures that were already addressed 50 years ago.
Phillips argues that if you do not support the Federal take-over of state voting processes, you are not patriotic. As will be made clear in the following analysis of HR4, Dean Phillips’ support of the 2021 Voting Rights bills was not an exercise in patriotism, it was a demonstration of straight-up partisanship.
Analysis: Federal House bill HR4
The misleadingly titled ‘John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act’, does the opposite of advancing voting rights. It actively aims to end fair elections to Federal office.
Sponsored by Alabama representative Terri Sewell and co-sponsored by 223 House members (all Democrats), the 76-page bill, last updated August 24th, 2021, passed the House on a party-line vote but its identical Senate companion measure, S.4 (same title) failed cloture in the Senate.
HR4 includes a lengthy laundry list of reasons allowing the Federal government to take over election of Federal representatives at the state level. HR4 has provisions requiring that non-protected classes (read: white people) be identified as ‘voting as a bloc’, and that they are ‘politically cohesive’ – both terms impossible of objective definition, and both inherently racist, and that is about as legally reasonable as HR4 gets.
For years, the Federal government had the power to “pre-clear” any voting changes in states it decided were preventing people from voting. The original intent – beginning in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act - was to stop some states from barring black citizens from voting. In 2013, after almost 50 years of Federal involvement, the US Supreme Court held in Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. that the original purpose of the preclearance clauses was no longer valid, among other reasons because black voting percentage rivalled white voting percentages in key battleground states. (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/21/key-facts-about-black-eligible-voters-in-2020-battleground-states/)
Since the Shelby County v. Holder decision, Democrats have persistently attempted to re-institute Federal control of state elections, aiming especially at Republican-leaning states.
HR4’s many questionable provisions include the following factors courts must consider in deciding voting challenges under HR4:
- The existence of any history of "voting discrimination" (not defined) affecting the right of the protected class (read: non-whites) to register, vote or participate in the political process (not defined). The provision has no time limit. Literally, a legal challenge could count slavery in the 1830’s as showing past voting discrimination.
- Whether the challenged jurisdiction is “racially polarized” (no definition provided)
- The extent to which the State or political subdivision has used voting practices or procedures that” tend to enhance the opportunity for discrimination against the members of the protected class, such as …. majority vote requirements … that may enhance the opportunity for discrimination against the members of the protected class.” (emphasis added)
That’s right, majority vote requirements are in some instances evidence of discrimination! And ‘may enhance’ is a provision wide enough to drive any claim through, especially when all that is necessary is that such provisions could, theoretically, provide an opportunity for discrimination. HR4 does not require proof of actual discrimination, or even real opportunity for it – all it requires is that voting practices and procedures could theoretically increase the likelihood an opportunity to discriminate might exist.
Law usually does not allow the consideration of hypothetical possibilities; in fact, a core requirement for litigating in Federal court is that a ‘live case or controversy’ must exist (Art. III, Section 2, Clause 1). HR4 repeatedly ignores this requirement.
“The extent to which members of the protected class in the State or political subdivision bear the effects of discrimination, both public or private, in such areas as education, employment, health, housing, and transportation, which hinder their ability to participate effectively in the political process.”
For example, if the ‘protected class’ isn’t housed as well as other groups, or isn't as healthy, a good faith legal question exists that may lead to Federal takeover of locally-conducted elections.
And a real corker: “Whether political campaigns have been characterized by overt or subtle racial appeals.”
As we have seen, anything and everything the Democrats think could help them politically can be and has been characterized by them as “racially motived” or “dog whistles”. It is impossible to create an objective legal standard to measure this clause.
And consider this: “The extent to which members of the protected class have been elected to public office in the jurisdiction.”
If the protected class isn’t winning elections ‘proportionately’, a cause for Fed takeover exists.
Please note that it doesn’t even matter if a winning non-protected (white) candidate won 100% of the vote of the ‘protected class’!
Finally, “The extent to which the State or political subdivision has used photographic voter identification requirements, documentary proof of citizenship requirements, documentary proof of residence requirements, or other voting practices or procedures, beyond those required by Federal law, that impair the ability of members of the minority group to participate fully in the political process.”
- First, Democrats have repeatedly said that any of the above automatically ‘impairs’ the ability of the protected class to participate politically.
- Second, yes, they actually are saying that merely requiring proof the voter is a registered voter, a US Citizen, or any form of photo ID, is enough for the Feds to take over the election process.
Technically, HR4 is Constitutional. Article I, Section 4, Clause 1 of the US Constitution states: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.” (bold added).
That doesn’t make HR4 right, or anything less than a naked attempt to end fair elections in our Constitutional Republic.