Following H.R. 1 Hearing, Nadler & Cohen Send Letter to DOJ about Decisions That Impact Voting Rights
Washington, DC, February 1, 2019
Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Steve Cohen (D-TN) sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker asking him to provide answers related to the Justice Department’s commitment to enforcing landmark voter protection laws. This includes explaining the Department’s decision to reverse its litigating position in the Ohio voter purge, Texas gerrymandering, and Texas voter ID cases; its involvement in adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census; the low number of case filings related to Voting Rights Act enforcement; the subpoenaing of minority-majority counties for sensitive election data; and other actions that impact the voting rights of Americans. The letter comes after the Judiciary Committee’s hearing this week on portions of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a package of reforms to restore confidence in American democracy by reducing the role of money in politics, restoring ethical standards and integrity for government, and strengthening laws to protect voting.
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
February 1, 2019
The Honorable Matthew Whitaker
Acting Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Acting Attorney General Whitaker:
Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing of the 116th Congress on H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2019.” The bill would make several important changes to federal law relating to voting rights, campaign finance, lobbying regulations, and government transparency measures.
As you know, voting rights and the enforcement of voter protection laws are a high priority issue for this Committee. The Department of Justice never provided a substantive response to any of the letters our members sent the Department in the 115th Congress and we still have many unanswered questions about the Trump Administration’s commitment to enforcing landmark voter protection laws.
The Justice Department’s decision to reverse its litigating position in the Ohio voter purge, Texas gerrymandering, and Texas voter ID cases; its involvement in adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census; the low number of case filings related to Voting Rights Act enforcement; the subpoenaing of minority-majority counties for sensitive election data; and the legal justifications for these and related actions by the Department must be better understood by this Committee.
To that end, we respectfully request you provide complete responses and produce the relevant documents and communications listed below by no later than February 15, 2019.
 See Luke Sharrett, Justice Department reverses position in Ohio voting rights case, NBC News, Aug. 8, 2017; Sam Levine, Texas discriminated against minority voters repeatedly. DOJ doesn’t care if it continues, Huff. Post, Jan. 30, 2019; and Pam Fessler, Justice Department reverses position on Texas voter ID law case, NPR, Feb. 27, 2017.
 Hansi Lo Wang, How the 2020 census citizenship question ended up in court, NPR, Nov. 4, 2018.
 See U.S. Dept. of Justice, Voting Section Litigation, https://www.justice.gov/crt/voting-section-litigation (last updated Sept. 27, 2018) (listing no new claims under the Voting Rights Act since 2017).
 Travis Fain, Federal subpoenas demand 'tsunami' of NC voter records, WRAL, Sept. 5, 2018.
 In keeping with precedent and practice established in the 115th Congress, we assume you will not assert deliberative process privilege for relevant Department documents and communications, and those responsive materials will be provided to the Committee. See Department of Justice’s document production in response to the Joint Judiciary Committee – Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s Investigation Into the FBI’s Actions During the 2016 Election (115th Cong.). See also Reps. Bob Goodlatte – Trey Gowdy, Subpoena, Mar. 22, 2018.