Update: Ed Kilgore offers an excellent overview of Republican voter suppression. Civil rights; if we can't count on this administration to act on this, what can be count on?
In a signal the White House is for now backing away from challenging state voter suppression laws following revelations that President Obama (Berman) told a Philadelphia radio host last week he has "made sure that our Justice Department is taking a look at what’s being done across the country to ensure that people aren’t being denied access to the franchise."
A leading Democratic flack [Marshall] suggests today that federal recourse to the Republican efforts to suppress the vote is limited to a few high-hurdle challenges under the Voting Rights Act.
Just a crazy idea, but doesn't the 24th Amendment [which bars poll taxes] of the United Constitution frown upon poll taxes?
How about that big ole' 14th amendment?
To take Wisconsin as one example, as John Nichols writes, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation head directed DMV employees to:
refrain from actively informing the public about the ability to receive a free identification card for the purposes of voting. ...Apparently, Marshall and the Obama administration are afraid of protecting civil rights under the 14th and 24th Amendments, and wish to avoid a fight with the states' rights and voter suppression crowd, aka the White Power folks embodied in the Republican Party.
In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court used the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to rule that poll taxes were unconstitutional for state and local elections.
And a lot of people thought that poll taxes would be buried along with the rest of the “Jim Crow” restrictions.
That was not to be the case.
The poll tax argument has been renewed with the national push by secretive right-wing groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass voter suppression laws such as Wisconsin’s voter ID bill.
How about a concerted political response?
Times have changed for the Civil Rights Movement.
And a broad array of skeptics remain weary of President Obama again abandoning principle in favor of an ill-conceived retreat.
One hopes wiser heads prevail.