Lawmakers are prodding the Justice Department to reveal how it plans to carry out President Biden‘s order for all federal agencies to “promote access to voting.”
The order has been a lightning rod for criticism that Mr. Biden is trying to turn the federal government into a Democratic get-out-the-vote machine.
Spearheaded by Rep. Ralph Norma of South Carolina, nine GOP House members recently sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on him to immediately publish Mr. Biden’s March 7, 2021, executive order to promote voting access.
Mr. Biden told the head of every federal agency, including the DOJ, to submit their plans to White House advisor Susan Rice for promoting voter registration and participation.
“First and foremost, the President has no legal basis to order all federal agencies to engage in voter registration, nor does he have the authority to order any federal agency to engage in efforts to promote voter participation. Yet, that is precisely what he is seeking to do through this EO,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter continued: “The Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution places primary responsibility for deciding the ‘Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections,’ squarely upon the shoulders of the state legislatures with limited oversight from Congress.
“The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the President to transform all federal executive agencies led by his political appointees, including DOJ, into get-out-the-vote machines for the left, paid for by federal taxpayers.”
The lawmakers warned that federal employees carrying out such an EO would likely violate laws like the Hatch Act, which was passed to keep federal agencies led by political appointees from engaging in political activities to favor one political party over another.
“Through executive order, President Biden has tasked federal agencies — led by his political appointees — with ‘promoting access to voting.’ On what planet is that appropriate?!” Mr. Norman recently wrote on his blog.
Other GOP lawmakers who signed on to the letter are Reps. Randy K. Weber of Texas, Mary E. Miller of Illinois, Bill Posey of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Chip Roy of Texas, Ben Kline of Virginia and Fred Keller of Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has refused to reveal its plans to in response to public requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
Last month, in response to a lawsuit by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a federal judge ordered the DOJ to disclose all of the documents related to its voting promotion plan as required under FOIA.
The Justice Department continued to withhold the documents, citing the FOIA exemption for the documents that disclose the deliberative process and the exemption for presidential communications.
Last week, the court ordered DOJ to justify its withholding of the documents. The department said the release of these records would cause “public confusion” and “such public confusion would result from disclosure of the Strategic Plan because it contains many proposed actions that the public might construe as ‘future commitments, past actions, or provisions already in place.’”
Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, said Justice Department was simply stalling.
“President Biden is deeply unpopular. It’s clear his administration has weaponized DOJ to hide records and is using the legal process to run out the clock before the midterm elections,” he said in a statement. “DOJ offered flimsy excuses to justify concealing key information regarding their participation in government-funded ‘get-out-the-vote’ efforts. FGA will not stop fighting to uncover these records and expose the full scope of the Biden administration’s mass voter registration scheme. The law and the American people are on our side.”
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