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AG drops Voting Rights Act lawsuit, plans to re-file

Attorney General Tom Horne (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office asked a federal court to dismiss its lawsuit against a provision of the Voting Rights Act, saying it doesn’t have the resources to fight an expensive court battle.

The U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit on April 10 at the request of Solicitor General David Cole, who was handling the case for the Attorney General’s Office. Cole said the office cannot spare the personnel or money right now that it would take to pursue the case, which would be heard in Washington, not Phoenix.

“It takes money and a lot of personnel to represent the state in an action of that nature, and we’re just unable to do it at the time,” Cole said.

Cole said the office plans to re-file the case, but isn’t sure when. He said mid-June would be the absolute earliest the case could be re-filed.

The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires a handful of states and other jurisdictions, including Arizona, to get approval, or “pre-clearance,” from the U.S. Department of Justice for all changes to voting and election laws. Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit last year, argued that Section 5 is unconstitutional, and that it was unfairly applied to Arizona.

Other court cases could render the re-filing of Arizona’s lawsuit moot. Shelby County, Ala., is fighting a similar challenge to Section 5. That case began before Horne’s lawsuit and has moved further along through the legal process. Kinston, N.C. has also filed suit against the law.

Cole said the other challenges to Section 5 are different from Arizona’s, and said he planned to re-file Arizona’s lawsuit regardless of what happened in the other court cases.

3 comments

  1. “The U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit on April 10 at the request of Solicitor General David Cole, who was handling the case for the Attorney General’s Office. Cole said the office cannot spare the personnel or money right now that it would take to pursue the case, which would be heard in Washington, not Phoenix.”

    Since hatred and bigotry drive these “Sunbelt” lawsuits the taxpayers should not be expected to underwrite these non-sensical lawsuits when Arizona is in crisis. Work on the Fiesta Bowl corruption and cleaning up the MCAO after Thomas / Aubuchon / Alexander disbarment for abuse of power. Does Arizona have a justice system?

  2. 1. The Civil Rights Act is unquestionably consitutional. It is a little late in the day to try to challenge it; if it were unconstitutional, the Supreme Court would have said so long ago.
    2. The Voting part of Civil Rights should be repealed for at least two reasons. It is ridiculous to provide voting materials in a language other than English; if someone does not understand English, they should not be voting. Naturalized citizens are supposed to know English to have become citizens; for those born here there is no excuse whatever.
    The other reasons is that the Voting Rights Act generally favors one party over another. The effect is to bunch Democrats together in a a few districts and to spread Republicans around more districts so that the Republicans gain more seats. Why Horne would want to terminate that favoritism for Republicans is hard to understand; perhaps he is just being a good citizen.
    Finally the current Voting Rights Act should be replaced by a real Voting Rights Act which bans the use of customary procedures such as requiring citizenship for voting as a means of intimidating voters. In other words, it would be okay to require showing an ID provided it was done in a way that does not have the effect of intimidation as was so often practiced in the past.

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