-by Julián Aguilar
May 7, 2012- The Texas attorney general’s office issued a statement in response to today’s court order and scheduling guidelines in the state’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice over the voter ID bill.
In the response, Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said it is not relenting in its defense. Instead, it alleges that the department, not the state, is responsible for dragging out the proceedings by requesting millions of documents that have “nothing to do” with the case. It also said the department itself has twice extended the deadline to preclear or block the bill. Below is the statement from Jerry Strickland, Abbott's communications director.
"In an ongoing effort to prevent Texas from enforcing its Voter ID law during the November election, the DOJ and partisans who oppose the Voter ID law, have issued endless discovery requests seeking millions of records that have nothing to do with this case. The State has already produced roughly 25,000 pages of information and millions of records from State databases. The DOJ and their partisan allies need to end their fishing expedition and stop their attempts to deny Texas the same right to require the very same type of photo identification from voters that has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. The needless delays imposed by the opponents of Texas' Voter ID law continue to prove that Justice Kennedy was correct when he noted that the Section 5's preclearance requirements put Texas at a disadvantage compared to other states.
From the beginning, the DOJ has made it clear they would do everything in their power to prevent Texas' Voter ID law from being implemented–and now DOJ is resorting to delay tactics in the pre-trial processing order to stop the law from applying to the November general election.
Although the DOJ was required to make its administrative decision within 60 days of July 25, the DOJ twice extended the deadline and did not make its preclearance decision until January. Then, the DOJ waited a full 60 days to respond to the State's lawsuit–which asked the courts to approve Texas' Voter ID law.
Since the pretrial discovery process began, the State has provided the DOJ approximately 25,000 pages of information and tens of millions of records from State databases. Nonetheless, the DOJ continues to demand more information, which the State continues to produce, and then complains that the State is not providing enough information as quickly as it would like and criticizes the State for exercising its legal right to assert privilege over confidential documents–despite the fact that DOJ is also asserting privileges and refusing to turn over its own documents.
For proof that DOJ is simply using massive information requests in a thinly veiled effort to delay the trial, just consider the fact the DOJ was already asking the Court to push back the July trial date nearly two months before the discovery period was even scheduled to end.
If the DOJ devoted even a fraction of the time they have spent complaining about their purported need for more information to instead reviewing the information they have already been provided, then this trial could unquestionably proceed without further delay. Instead, the very same DOJ that purports to revere and protect the Voting Rights Act is employing a litigation strategy that exacerbates the law's constitutional problems by improperly denying Texas' ability to implement a law that States like Kansas and Pennsylvania can implement without intrusion by the federal government–and that the U.S. Supreme Court already found to be constitutional in Indiana.