Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit advising that he is going to reconsider his denial of preclearance for the Kinston nonpartisan voting system on the basis of “new” information he recently received about racial voting patterns in Kinston. The letter suggests that he may now preclear the nonpartisan system and implies that CIR’s challenge would then be moot.
However, LaRoque v. Holder challenges the constitutionality of the preclearance procedure as a whole, not the specific decision the Attorney General made in this case. That is, plaintiffs LaRoque, Nix, and the others argue that requiring Kinston to preclear election law changes is unconstitutional. And they argue that Section 5’s requirement that any such changes maximize the electoral advantages of certain racial groups is also unconstitutional.
CIR’s clients are entitled to a determination of these constitutional challenges on their merits lest some new change to Kinston’s voting procedures subject them to the same unconstitutional preclearance procedure all over again. CIR’s clients’ right to a determination on the merits is strengthened by the fact that the the supposedly “new” information cited in the Attorney General’s letter isn’t really new; minority voting strength in Kinston has been high for a number of years. This suggests that the Attorney General’s letter was caused not by a change in voting patterns in Kinston so much as a desire to avoid judicial resolution of the constitutional claims raised in LaRoque v. Holder.
- Read the Attorney General’s Letter