It is hard to tell what is more disturbing about Attorney General Eric Holder's July 25 speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia: That the nation's top cop openly vowed to do something the Supreme Court said just last month was unconstitutional or that the announcement elicited barely a peep out of the mainstream media. Holder said he would ignore the court's Shelby County v. Holder ruling on the Voting Rights Act, at least concerning Texas. That means the Lone Star State will continue to have to submit any changes to its voting procedures -- including everything from how districts are drawn to voter-ID requirements -- to Holder's Department of Justice for prior approval. That is, the very requirement the court ruled impermissible under the Constitution.
Technically, DOJ would employ a different provision of the Voting Rights Act that permits preclearance requirements if the department finds a state has violated the 14th or 15th Amendments. But there is little doubt Holder was making an end-run around the court ruling. "My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination," he said, adding that "these remaining tools are no substitute for legislation that must fill the void left by the Supreme Court's decision."
It is a wonder that Holder even bothers to say that congressional legislation would be helpful. It is not as though he has shown any more deference to the legislative branch of government than to the judicial. This is, after all, the same man who perjured himself before Congress regarding his knowledge of the Fast and Furious program, which earned him a well-deserved Contempt of Congress vote in June 2012.
Since then, Holder appears to have misled Congress regarding DOJ's charging of Fox News national security reporter James Rosen with espionage. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee under oath that the Rosen decision was "not something I have ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy." In fact, Holder signed off on the charging documents.
Holder hasn't shown much respect for the Bill of Rights, either. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and several of their Senate colleagues had to stage an old-fashioned Senate filibuster merely to extract from Holder an admission that the federal government has no unilateral right to use a drone strike to execute U.S. citizens on American soil without due process.
Those are, sadly, just the most prominent examples of Holder's contempt for the Constitution's balance of powers doctrine. He has suffered little for this though. Liberals have been content to look the other way largely because he has -- in their eyes -- the right enemies. They should think again. Bit by bit, Holder is codifying abuses they found so abominable under President George W. Bush's Justice Department. Unless Holder is restrained, the next attorney general -- Republican or Democrat -- who finds it inconvenient to obey the law will cite Holder to justify new outrages.