The Judge is Mistaken

Federal Judge Lee Rudofsky, of the Eastern District of Arkansas says he’ll toss an ACLU suit against that State’s new voter redistricting law unless Biden-Harris’ DoJ joins the suit.

His rationale is this:

After a thorough analysis of the text and structure of the Voting Rights Act, and a painstaking journey through relevant caselaw, the Court has concluded that this case may be brought only by the Attorney General of the United States[.]

Rudofsky is sort of correct to make his threat—the suit should be dismissed. There is no advantage or disadvantage to any race in the new voter map, only to this or that political party. All voters, after all, look alike under law, including voter law.

However, the judge has made a number of errors in this. First, there’s no need to delay a dismissal of the case. DoJ has already communicated its decision to not be a party through its current non-participation.

Second, State districting for Federal elections is an internal State matter per Art I, Sect 4:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.

DoJ is not Congress, and Congress has not asked—nor is it likely to—DoJ to make a case. It’s more basic than that, though. Congress can intervene in a State’s voting law only to make changes to existing law; it cannot rewrite State law, or originate State law for that State.

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