OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
An MSNBC political analyst known for making outrageous claims and statements has suggested that the Biden administration should engage in a “federal takeover” of elections in largely Republican states, deeming the situation an “emergency” over alleged civil rights violations regarding voting.
“This is an emergency,” Morgan State University professor Dr. Jason Johnson claimed in justifying the call for authoritarianism.
The professor made his remarks during an appearance on “The ReidOut,” with host Joy Reid during a discussion with “Black Votes Matter” co-founder Latosha Brown over a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against the state of Texas earlier this week.
Without evidence, Brown claimed that Republican-led states are purposely passing legislation so they can “step in ” and “throw out” any reflection results they don’t agree with.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland leveled accusations at Texas officials, claiming they violated the federal Voting Rights Act with a new redistricting map following the 2020 Census by diluting minority voting strength.
“Today the Department of Justice has filed suit against the state of Texas for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Garland said. “As the Supreme Court has observed, a core principle of our democracy is that ‘voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.’”
“Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requires that state voting laws, including laws that draw electoral maps, provide eligible voters with an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and elect representatives of their choosing,” he continued.
“The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and black voters to vote on account of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group,” Garland added.
“This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta noted further. “Decade after decade, courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting strength of Latino and Black voters and that violate the Voting Rights Act.”
However, Texas GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton pushed back and predicted that the Lone Star State would prevail in court.
“The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters,” Paxton posted on Twitter. “I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”
The DOJ has also sued Texas over S.B. 1, a voting integrity bill that bans 24-hour polling locations and strengthens voter ID requirements — both actions of which lend credence to Republicans that Biden is using the Justice Department as a political weapon.
For his part, Johnson rationalized his argument by pointing to action taken by the U.S. government following the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
“I know this is something that hasn’t been done in 50 or 60 years, but you know what happened when the federal government said, ‘Hey, Brown vs. Board of Education, we have to integrate schools?’ They sent troops,” Johnson argued. “They sent federal officials to places and said, ‘You will let black children into this school.’”
That opens the door for Biden to take similar actions now over alleged voting violations, Johnson argued.
“This administration can say, we have concerns about how elections are being conducted in this particular state. We’re going to send officials down there. We’re going to send election observers. If we think that people’s civil rights are being violated, we will do a federal takeover,” he argued, adding that he was sure “right-wingers” would likely “scream” about his suggestion.
“This is what the federal government is supposed to do. If states are violating people’s civil rights, you’re supposed to step in,” Johnson reasoned.