Issa Asks Holder for D.C. Voting Rights Documents

Posted April 8, 2009 at 3:05pm

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday demanding that the Justice Department release any documents related to the constitutionality of the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act.

Issa’s letter comes a week after news that the Office of Legal Counsel declared the bill unconstitutional — prompting Holder to ask the Office of the Solicitor General for a second opinion.

In the letter, Issa calls Holder’s actions “seemingly haphazard— and accuses him of “questionable judgment and partisan political motivations.

“More concerning, however, is your willingness to unilaterally make Constitutional determinations that are adverse to the Justice Department lawyers charged with analyzing such questions,— wrote Issa, who is the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Your decision places partisan political motivations over the professional legal judgment of Justice Department lawyers.—

The D.C. voting rights act would give the heavily Democratic District its first-ever voting Representative, while handing Republican-leaning Utah an extra seat.

Opponents charge that the bill is constitutional because D.C. isn’t a state. Supporters contend that the city is already treated like a state in other ways; they also point to a provision in the Constitution that gives Congress sweeping powers over D.C.

Back in 2007, the bill easily passed the House — with Issa as a public supporter. But he switched sides at the beginning of this Congress.

His spokesman has said he became worried that the bill’s passage would lead to demands for the District to get two Senate seats.

In 2007, the bill never made it past the Senate. But it got new life in February, passing the Senate fairly quickly, only to stall in the House because of a controversial amendment that would wipe out most of D.C.’s gun laws. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said he hopes to bring the bill to the floor by May.