Thursday, March 20, 2014

Prove it: Court rules states can make voters prove citizenship

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that Arizona and Kansas can require anyone registering to vote to prove their citizenship and the federal Election Assistance Commission cannot block them.

The ruling is a boost for states’ rights and marks a setback for President Obama and other liberals who fought stiffer voter ID checks with an argument that they reduce voter turnout.

“This is a huge victory for me, personally, for the states of Kansas and Arizona, and for the whole cause of states’ rights,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, who led the challenge. “We’ve seen so many defeats recently in areas where the federal government has been encroaching on states’ authorities, and this time the good guys won.”

In his ruling, Judge Eric F. Melgren said the EAC, which Congress created after the 2000 Florida voting fiasco, must accede to states’ requests for people to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The judge said the Constitution gives states the power to determine voter qualifications, and if states want to insist on proof of citizenship, the election commission cannot overrule them.

“The EAC’s nondiscretionary duty is to perform the ministerial function of updating the instructions to reflect each state’s laws,” Judge Melgren ruled in a decision out of Kansas. “The court orders the EAC to add the language requested by Arizona and Kansas to the state-specific instructions of the federal mail voter registration form immediately.”

A spokesman for the EAC said the commission was reviewing the decision. The Justice Department, which
argued the case before Judge Melgren, didn’t return a message seeking comment.

The ruling comes at a time when both Democrats and Republicans are paying increasing interest to the rules governing campaigns and voting. With the country ideologically split, each side is looking for an advantage at the ballot box.

Democrats say identification checks could prevent some eligible voters from casting ballots. Republicans generally argue for stiffer checks to prevent fraud.

Kansas and Arizona enacted requirements that voters prove their citizenship when they register. State registration forms were changed to add the requirement.

But the federal government, which also distributes voter registration forms in states under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, or motor-voter law, refused to add the requirement.
Arizona then said it would refuse to process federal forms and ended up in court. Last year, in a case known as Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona couldn’t reject the federal forms.

But the Supreme Court ruling also hinted that if states asked the EAC to include proof of citizenship on forms distributed within their borders, the commission couldn’t refuse.
Arizona and Kansas requested that the EAC change the forms distributed in those states, but the commission refused.

Judge Melgren said he saw clear signs in last year’s Supreme Court ruling that the justices intended for the EAC to follow the wishes of the states.

“On one hand, the ITCA decision acknowledges the broad scope of Congress‘ power under the Elections Clause, which includes the authority of the NVRA to preempt state law regarding voter registration,” the judge wrote. “But the ITCA opinion also emphasizes the states’ exclusive constitutional authority to set voter qualifications — which Congress may not preempt — and appears to tie that authority with the power of the states to enforce their qualifications.”

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the ruling will help clean up voter rolls. About 2,000 people have submitted federal forms in the state but haven’t proved their citizenship, he said.
“With this filing and with this ruling, we have accomplished what we felt was the desire of Arizona voters all along,” Mr. Bennett said.

Wednesday’s ruling was focused on election law, but it comes in the middle of a thorny national debate about U.S. immigration laws. A number of states have pushed for stricter enforcement from the Obama administration and the right to help enforce federal immigration principles.
Mr. Kobach has been at the forefront of those efforts.

The Washington Times

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Exclusive - Benghazi Victims' Families Demand Boehner Haul CIA Official Before Select Committee

5 Mar 2014

 A coalition of military community leaders, conservative movement leaders, and the Benghazi victims’ families are demanding that Speaker John Boehner take “immediate” action against a former acting CIA Director accused of misleading Congress on the Benghazi scandal. Citing recent reporting from Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, investigative work from conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch and the findings of a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report, they wrote to Boehner on Wednesday morning that, “We now know that there is compelling evidence that former Acting Central Intelligence Director Michael Morell has made false and misleading statements to Congress.”

Writing about the Senate report, Herridge published a series of articles over the course of February that detailed how Morell allegedly misled lawmakers. Morell told Congress that the now-infamous misleading talking points that claimed a protest resulting from a YouTube video led to the attack—not Islamic terrorism—had been shared with the White House ahead of Susan Rice using them, but were not asking for White House input. Emails later released by the Obama administration “showed otherwise,” Herridge wrote in one such report.

“This issue demands your immediate personal attention,” the signers of the letter, including Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith’s mother Pat Smith and uncle Michael Ingmire, and security officer Tyrone Woods’ father Charles Woods, wrote to Boehner.

Woods and Smith, along with security officer Glen Doherty and America’s ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. This Wednesday letter to Boehner represents the second such letter Smith’s family members and Woods’ family members have signed on to with conservative and military leaders in recent months. In early January, they called on Boehner to install a select committee. A bill to establish a select committee introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has been cosponsored by more than 75 percent of the House GOP conference.

Although Boehner has not established a select committee, top House officials have signaled they are focusing on the investigation since the letter was sent, the authors write.

“We were pleased to see that our letter of January 6, 2014 may have persuaded you and your various committee chairs investigating the Benghazi attacks to make some limited efforts to promote information gathered through the uncoordinated work of the House,” they wrote. “But the establishment of the Internet website, ‘The House Republican Investigation of Benghazi’ only highlights the inadequacies of House efforts to date. Most Americans, in addition to a large majority of your party’s caucus, demand a full and complete investigation of this terror attack. Mr. Morell’s statements and conduct appear to have materially contributed to confusing and misleading the Congress and the American people. Susan Rice’s latest rounds of lies about Benghazi on the February 23, 2014 edition of Meet the Press illustrate the contempt that this Administration has for your committees’ investigation to date.”

Boehner has resisted efforts to install a select committee to investigate Benghazi. Instead, he says the five House committees currently investigating—Oversight, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Armed Services—are doing enough.

In response to that first early January letter, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that the concerns that the ongoing House investigations are ineffective are unfounded.
“House Republicans are committed to finding the truth about what happened in Benghazi and why the White House failed to level with the American people,” Steel said then.

But the families are now renewing their call to Boehner to create a select committee “now,” one that is “fully resourced with staff and subpoena powers – to conduct a thorough, coordinated investigation.”

One of that committee’s actions, once Boehner installs it if he does, they say, should be to compel Morell to testify before it. “Mr. Morell must be compelled to appear before Congress and explain his statements and conduct,” they wrote. “Even if he invokes his right not to testify under the Fifth Amendment, then the Congress must pursue, through a Select Committee, the many unanswered questions and apparent Obama administration cover-up of the terror attacks that cost the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and Security Officers Glen Doherty and Ty Woods.”

They added in their letter that there are many “other Benghazi-related questions that remain unanswered,” as well and called on Boehner to “act now” because “the public trust is now before” him in the face of “gravely disturbing evidence of possible criminality and abuse of public office.”

In addition to the victims' family members, other letter signers include retired Navy Admiral James Lyons, retired Navy Admiral Jerome Johnson, retired Army General Frederick Kroesen, retired Air Force Lt. General Tom McInerney, retired Army Lt. General Jerry Boykin, former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, Special Operations Speaks’ Col. Dick Brauer, Veterans for a Strong America’s Joel Arends, Secure America Now’s Allen Roth, Ginni Thomas of Liberty Consulting, David Horowitz of the Freedom Center, and a whole host of other leaders from the conservative movement and military community.

Big Government