In The Bush Administration, Political Interests Triumph Over Fundamental Rights

[Ed Note: Sen. Daschle will return this afternoon to respond to some of your comments.]

It’s good to be back online with you all.

I have been flabbergasted by the continuing news coming out of the Justice Department. I first wrote on this blog a few weeks ago to discuss the harmful impact that requiring photo IDs would have on the most basic right in this country – the right to vote. Just a couple of weeks later, I returned to Think Progress to discuss how political bureaucrats at the Department of Justice overrode the strong recommendation of experienced DOJ professionals who suggested that the Georgia photo ID law was inconsistent with requirements under the historically successful Voting Rights Act. We have since learned that political bureaucrats at Justice overrode the professionals on the Texas redistricting case, too.

Now, the Justice Department has enacted a policy to not even seek the recommendations of career professionals on cases regarding state compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Republican and Democratic Administrations for decades have sought to insulate this important process from politics by establishing a transparent process shepherded by experienced professionals, not political appointees.

In 2002, we fought to protect the rights of experienced professionals at the new Department of Homeland Security because we felt it was vital that we emphasize the role of experts who are able make decisions based on the merits and for the good of the country, not for the good of a political party. The Bush administration sees government as a mechanism to protect their own interests, not the most basic rights of American citizens.

What is amazing is the Administration does not even hide its intention to completely disregard checks and balances – it sees the historic institutions of our government as vehicles to protect its political equities, not as vehicles to protect Americans’ fundamental rights.