Fact-Checking Eric Holder's South Carolina Speech

Attorney General Eric Holder got a lot wrong in his speech in Columbia, South Carolina, but two things in particular: 1) that voter fraud is rare and 2) that South Carolina’s voter laws are racist, not only by their intent, but by their effect.

Holder told his audience that included the NAACP top brass:

… I learned early in my legal career – when I actually investigated and prosecuted voting-fraud cases – making voter registration easier is simply not likely, by itself, to make our elections more susceptible to fraud. Indeed, responsible parties on all sides of this debate have acknowledged that in-person voting fraud is uncommon.

But Alabama Democrat (and black) former congressman Artur Davis says that, on the contrary, voter fraud is far more common than surmised. Indeed, the very day that Holder spoke in South Carolina The Daily Caller broke a story highlighting the criminal voter fraud conducted by the NAACP in Mississippi and Ohio. Democrats, including Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Pittsburgh District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., and Miami, FL. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, have all prosecuted the voter fraud that Holder says is rare. Voter I.D. would hamper the ease with which voter fraud could be committed.

In speaking of voter I.D., “we concluded that the state had failed to meet its burden of proving that the voting change would not have a racially discriminatory effect,” Holder told the audience in South Carolina, but he offers no evidence for his claim. Perhaps that’s because the evidence that requiring a photo I.D. has an “unfair impact on minority voters” is utterly lacking. The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez really had to stretch in South Carolina’s case because, as the Wall Street Journal notes, “8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters.” Only in Eric Holder’s so-called Justice Department is the normal variance between different racial groups in identification documents tantamount to disparate racial impact while the coordinated thuggish behavior of the New Black Panthers against white voters or the discrimination against white voters in Guam were nothing to see. In South Carolina Holder brags about “a record number of new investigations–more than 100 in the last fiscal year” but somehow those two instances didn’t make the cut. Holder warned of “both overt and subtle forms of discrimination [that] remain all too common,” but the subtle forms of discrimination are simply too subtle to be noticed while the overt discrimination is too obvious to be actionable.

Holder fails to understand that this is not the South Carolina of the 1960s, the Confederate flag flying over the capitol notwithstanding. Indeed Tim Scott, one of the most popular congressmen in the Republican Party, is a black man who represents a congressional district that is 75% white. This is an achievement that no Democrat has ever accomplished in the South (or much of elsewhere for that matter) because of the persistent folly of the Voting Rights Act, which, by making congressional districts as black as possible have diluted the need for black congressmen to build bridges across the racial divide and limited their effect on the national conversation, as Abigail Thernstrom, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has noted. President Obama, Eric Holder’s boss, must know this well, having been trounced in his ill-considered bid to replace Bobbie Rush. It was only when he moved out to the ‘burbs and courted white voters that he began to have an effect.

Perhaps Holder doesn’t understand the achievement made in South Carolina because Holder’s roots don’t extend south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but from the Barbados and New York City. How uncomfortable it must be for Holder that the state that once enshrined the superiority of the white race in its constitution is now governed by Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s first non-white governor. Rather than celebrate these victories for what they are, as evidence that South Carolina, like the rest of America, has turned from the racism that made a Civil Rights Act necessary. Eric Holder seems to believe he is still living in Jim Crow America.