MSNBC political analyst declares ’emergency,’ calls for ‘federal takeover’ of elections in red states

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A political contributor to MSNBC on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to send federal authorities into Republican states to enact a “federal takeover” of elections, arguing that is what is supposed to happen if the state has been found to be “violating people’s civil liberties.”

Jason Johnson, a professor at Morgan State University, said the drastic measure is needed because “this is an emergency.”

Johnson made his comments during an appearance on Joy Reid’s program with “Black Votes Matter” co-founder Latosha Brown during a discussion of a Justice Department lawsuit filed against Texas this week over the state’s redistricting map stemming from the 2020 Census. Brown claimed, sans evidence, that GOP-led states are passing voting reform legislation so they can “step in” and “throw out” election results they do not like.

In a press conference, Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland accused Texas officials of violating the federal Voting Rights Act through dilution of 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 principal 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 noted further.

“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. “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.”

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pushed back online 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, a Republican, said 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 Justice Department has also sued Texas over S.B. 1, a voting integrity bill that bans 24-hour polling locations and strengthens voter ID requirements.

As for Johnson, he justified his argument by pointing to action taken by the U.S. government following the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

“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.’”

The Biden administration should take a similar approach in states where there are voting “concerns,” he added.

“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.

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