Justice Department Ignores Office of Legal Counsel, Politicizes D.C. Voting Rights Bill

April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member (R-CA) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today calling on the Justice Department to “produce any memoranda prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel and the Solicitor General regarding the constitutionality of the D.C. voting rights bill.” If the Justice declines, the letter requests a “detailed explanation” for the refusal.

“Your willingness to shop for the legal opinion you desire demonstrates questionable judgment and partisan political motivations,” Issa, who is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee wrote in the letter.  “More concerning, however, is your willingness to unilaterally make Constitutional determinations that are adverse to the Justice Department lawyers charged with analyzing such questions.  Your decision places partisan political motivations over the professional legal judgment of Justice Department lawyers.”

The letter to the Attorney General stems from reports that the Justice Department rejected the Office of Legal Counsel’s determination that the D.C. voting rights bill is unconstitutional and sought a different view from lawyers in the Office of the Solicitor General.

“At your confirmation hearing, you stated your desire to ensure ‘that what we have seen in the recent past is not replicated,’ the letter reads.  “In your opening statement you pledged, ‘I will work to restore the credibility of a department badly shaken by allegations of improper political interference.’  It is the OLC’s opinion that the D.C. voting rights bill is unconstitutional and yet you have ignored their legal reasoning and judgment.  You have taken the first step down the slippery slope of politicization.

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