Writing on The Corner, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky summarizes Friday’s hearing in a Washington, D.C., courtroom at which a group of Kinston residents challenged the feds’ use of Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 to overturn a referendum shifting local elections in Kinston from partisan to nonpartisan.

Spakovsky suggests the feds didn’t do well.

[DOJ attorney Richard] Dellheim was put in the awkward position of claiming that no one had suffered a legal injury ? neither Kinston?s voters, who approved the referendum that has been nullified, nor candidates who wanted to run for office under the system the referendum would have adopted. Bates asked Dellheim when, if ever, any voter would have standing to make such a claim under the government?s view. Dellheim?s answer was basically ?Never.?

The DOJ?s claim that the candidates have no injuries, despite the fact that running as an independent candidate in a partisan election in North Carolina imposes extra burdens on candidates, was strained and hypocritical. The department was basically arguing that making ballot access more difficult doesn?t injure a candidate and, thus, doesn?t give him standing to sue. This position completely contradicts the position the Department has taken on numerous prior occasions when it has argued that ballot-qualification requirements violated Section 5.


Dellheim was left to argue that the Kinston plaintiffs should not even get their day in court, a very dubious proposition to make in reference to a law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, whose entire purpose was to protect the voting rights of individual citizens.

Read the whole thing.

For more about the case, and links to Carolina Journal‘s earlier coverage of the story, click here.