SC lawmakers question Holder’s decision to go after voter ID law

“Not only do we strongly support the court’s decision to award costs, we request follow up on our previous letter regarding the reasons why this costly litigation occurred in the first place,” Graham and Gowdy wrote. “If some, or all, of the costs associated with these actions could have been avoided by following the recommendation of career voting section experts, then we would like to know the reason why they were overruled.”

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Graham and Gowdy said that voting section experts on the 1965 Voting Rights Act recommended to the Justice Department that South Carolina’s new voter ID laws were not in conflict, but Justice still pursued the case. 

The lawmakers had requested documents on the decision-making process while the court challenge was occurring, but they were told that the documents were confidential since they involved an ongoing court matter. Now that the decision has been made and the Justice Department lost the challenge, Graham and Gowdy still want the documents. 

“While we appreciate your departments’ adherence to confidentiality, now that this is no longer an ongoing matter we respectfully resubmit our request,” the letter stated. “Accordingly, we again request all documents and communications pertaining to the Department’s decision to oppose Act R54 [South Carolina’s voter ID law] and pursue costly litigation, including any memos recommending pre-clearance and any documents discussing the decision to disregard that recommendation. We are confident that our request does not run contrary to your policies and practices.”

Also on Wednesday, news reports said that Holder had decided to stay in his position for President Obama’s second term. Republicans have been highly critical of Holder.

In the letter, Graham and Gowdy said his department might have purposely driven up the cost of the court case — which the federal government now has to reimburse South Carolina for — by delaying proceedings and requiring the state to produce more than 165,000 pages of documents.