Below is my expanded column in Fox.com on the recent decision finding the Georgia election law constitutional. That was the law widely denounced by President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders as unconstitutional as a “new Jim Crow” law. The media repeated the claim despite some of us noting that the law fit well within existing precedent and even shared conditions with blue states like Delaware. Now that the challenge to election law changes denounced as voter suppression have been entirely rejected, there is little more than a shrug from some of the same figures and outlets.
Here is the column:
“Jim Eagle” has landed… with a thud. President Joe Biden famously (and somewhat bizarrely) used the name “Jim Eagle” to characterize the Georgia election law. Democrats have criticized Georgia rules enacted before and after the 2020 election as voter suppression. The provisions in this lawsuit concerned pre-2020 changes that allegedly made it “harder to register, harder to stay registered and ultimately harder to vote.” Both Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden denounced the Georgia laws in 2020 as voter suppression.
In the meantime, another court refused an injunction sought by the Biden Administration of additional provisions passed after 2020 concerning a ban on political parties supplying water, food, and gifts to people waiting in line to vote. Such injunctions are only secured when there is a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits. The provision was emphasized by critics, including President Biden, among the various other changes.
It was not enough to call it “Jim Crow on steroids” and “sick,” President Biden wanted the public to know that the law was flagrantly unconstitutional. Some of us disagreed, but the view that counted was that of U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee who heard the challenge to the law. This week, Jones found the law to be entirely constitutional. The case involves a challenge filed four years ago.
After being declared the “new confederacy” and subjected to a costly boycott, Georgians could be forgiven if they view Biden’s claim as more foul and fowl.
Given the exhausting media coverage and condemnations of the law, one would expect the legion of legal experts out in force on a judge upholding the allegedly “modern Jim Crow law.” Instead, it has been crickets . . . almost as if the earlier coverage was knowingly exaggerated for public consumption.
After the post-2020 changes, Democrats denounced the Georgia election laws as flagrantly unconstitutional and abusive. Georgia Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams tweeted “It’s Jim Crow in a suit + tie.” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., called the laws “anti-American, racist, and a betrayal of our Constitution.” Democratic attorney Marc Elias (who allegedly hid the Clinton campaigns funding of the infamous Steele dossier) said in an interview that “democracy was assaulted with a pen” in the Georgia election law. Liberal publications like Vanity Fair called it “a broad, profoundly undemocratic assault on voting rights.”
Now that such claims were actually subjected to judicial review and rejected, there is little discussion of Jim Crow. The group that lost before the district court is closely associated with Abrams, who previously refused to concede the election of Gov. Brian Kemp in the last election.
President Biden once again has moved on. For weeks, Biden denounced Georgia as taking us back to the segregation period and even the Civil War. Yet, the ruling met with a shrug from the White House.
It is a familiar pattern. The president has often made sweeping legal claims and then refused to address the rejection of those claims.
The Georgia ruling actually came on the anniversary of one of the most reprehensible examples. A year ago, President Biden rushed to condemn border agents falsely accused of whipping migrants from horses along the border. Not waiting for charges, let alone an investigation, Biden declared “It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.”
The same pattern followed. While some of us noted that there was no evidence to support the claim (and actually the photographer denied the allegation), the media went into the same frenzy. While promising a quick investigation, the Biden administration then slow walked the process and recently cleared the agents of the whipping allegation. They will, of course, still be punished just as the president promised that they would . . . for something.
The one thing that they will not receive is an apology from President Biden. The news cycle is over and they are no longer relevant. It is no longer important or worth mentioning that Biden openly misrepresented the law with a series of false statements. In today’s highly protective media, Biden can just move on without contradiction to his next sensational legal claim.
There is also silence from those who supported the boycott of Georgia over election laws that critics claimed would suppress voter turnout. Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta and may have cost the state as much as $100 million.
The MLB is entirely silent in its decision to punish Georgia before any review of the courts of the pre-2020 or post-2020 changes. While some of us disagreed with Abrams and Biden, the MLB simply punished the whole state.
Georgia has noted that the alleged “voter suppression” under the law turned out to be a voter enhancement. According to the secretary of state’s office, 1.9 million eligible voters participated in the 2022 primary contest compared to 1.2 million in 2018. Moreover, African-American turnout was 22% higher than any other primary election except for the 2020 presidential primary.
Nevertheless, the Justice Department is continuing its own challenge of the post 2020 changes, which is further undermined by the analysis of Judge Jones on the pre 2020 provisions. The Justice Department is challenging stricter voter ID requirements, drop box regulations, shorter absentee ballot request deadlines and other provisions. However, it has not challenged similar or even more restrictive provisions in other states like Delaware.
Given the reasoning and precedent in the Jones opinion, such objections seem even less compelling particularly given the record turnout in the last election cycle despite both the pre-2020 and post-2020 changes.
Much like the border agent controversy at Homeland Security, the Justice Department seems driven to prove the president right. However, thus far, no one can get the “Jim Eagle” claim off the ground in challenging the Georgia election law.
Judge Jones wrote: “the burden on voters is relatively low… plaintiffs have not provided direct evidence of a voter who was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, was confused about voter registration status.” That seems a bit odd for a state widely denounced as engaging in voter suppression before and after 2020.
So much for “Jim Eagle.” Yet, these baseless claims will only increase with the approaching midterm elections. Our politics have now come to resemble the “bad” days described in William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” when “wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.”
*This version was expanded to add greater detail on the pre-2020 and post-2020 election law changes involved in the two challenges mentioned in the Fox.com column. Both sets of election changes were denounced as voter suppression.