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updated: 3/27/2013 12:01 PM

All citizens need equal protection

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This is in response to Karen Wagner's March 14 letter arguing that the Supreme Court should not overturn the Voting Rights Act because it perpetuates the right to vote for all Americans and that Justice Antonin Scalia was incorrect to say that the portion of the act under review is a "racial entitlement." I would suggest she needs to make her sales pitch to the Justice Department. According to a 250 page report just released by the Department's Office of Inspector General, "The Civil Rights Division's current leadership has stated that it interprets the "retrogressive effect" test under Section 5 (voting rights) not to be applicable to white voters who are in the numerical minority in a particular jurisdiction."

The report goes on to say that "public filings and statements to the OIG, the division has stated that it interprets the nonretrogression principle of Section 5 to be "race conscious," in that it does not cover white citizens when they are in the numerical minority in a covered jurisdiction."

None other than Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez makes it clear in written communications to the staff of the Voting Rights Division that he doesn't think Section 5 should ever be used to protect a white minority in covered jurisdictions. In a February 2011 letter, Perez noted that the division has always understood the term "minority" to mean not numerical minority, but rather "an identifiable and specially disadvantaged group."

A question to Ms. Wagner, is this policy one that protects the voting rights of all Americans, or could it be construed, prima facie, as "racial entitlement"? In a nation that highly prizes the rule of law, aren't all citizens entitled to equal protection?

Joe H. Heater


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