Feb 25 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, February 25, 2016 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), today questioned Attorney General Loretta Lynch on recent reports that the Department of Justice has failed to properly defend the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (E.A.C.) in a lawsuit involving the right of States to require proof of citizenship for voter registration.
The E.A.C. has approved the request of States - such as Alabama, Georgia and Kansas - to require such proof of citizenship, and various outside groups are challenging this approval in court. Earlier this week, a federal court denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the E.A.C’s actions. However, the Department of Justice’s lawyers took the opposite position of the E.A.C. instead of defending them.
Senator Shelby reacted to this news stating, “It is completely unacceptable that the Department of Justice has failed in its duty to defend the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Under no circumstances should non-citizens be allowed to vote in our nation’s elections. The integrity of our voting system is critical, and the Department of Justice’s negligence in this case must not be tolerated.”
Senator Shelby questioned Attorney General Lynch during a CJS subcommittee hearing today. An unofficial transcript is as follows:
SHELBY: Did you authorize, as the Attorney General, the Department’s attorneys to argue for a temporary restraining order, and possibly even a preliminary injunction, against the actions of your own client, the Election Assistance Commission?
LYNCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you noted, the Department does represent the Election Assistance Commission as we statutorily do represent virtually all federal agencies and other Departments here. This matter is an open matter – it’s in current litigation, so because it is in active litigation it is not appropriate for me to comment at this time on those types of discussion. I would note that we did file papers in that matter, and our position is best set forth in those pleadings.
SHELBY: Do you personally believe – as you are the chief law enforcement officer in the country – that non-citizens should be allowed to vote in U.S. elections – although they are not American citizens?
LYNCH: Well, Senator, I believe the law is settled as to who is allowed to vote in terms of citizenship. I believe this particular case focuses on matters of how documents will be prepared. As I indicated, we have filed pleadings in the matter, and I would refer you to those for the Department’s position.