He may be the youngest attorney general in the United States, but South Carolina's top prosecutor says its time the federal government start treating his state "like adults" when it comes to election law.
State Attorney General Alan Wilson spoke out against on going attempts by the U.S. Justice Department to squash South Carolina's -- as well as other state's -- voter ID law during a speaking engagement in Florence on Wednesday. Wilson, 39, said the debate over whether requiring voters to produce a photo ID in order to cast a ballot discriminates against minority voters or not is less about racial inequality and more about conflicting political philosophies.
"It's not about black and white," Wilson said. "It's about conservative, liberal, big government, restrictive government. It's a philosophical difference."
Wilson made his case for voter ID, as well as an assortment of other issues, while a guest speaker at "Live at Central," a weekly lecture series held at Central United Methodist Church.
While Wilson argued voter ID was a common sense solution that would not discriminate, he also focused on why the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- which requires laws pertaining to voting in South Carolina and seven other states be cleared by the justice department before going into effect -- was being misused by the federal government. Wilson contended the law was attacking state governments rather than protecting minorities as it was originally intended.
Wilson likened the states who fall under preclearance -- Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Caroline, South Carolina, and Virginia -- as being seated at the "children's table" in having to ask permission to make changes in its voting laws. He said citizens today are being punished for sins committed decades ago.
"I don't dispute its original intent, but I dispute how it's being used now," Wilson said of the VRA. "South Carolina is not the South Carolina of 50 years ago. We have a ways to go, but the standards that are being applied to us are dated and antiquated and it's wrong."
The group of roughly 40 individuals attending Wilson's remarks were all white, but Wilson said he routinely makes his argument while speaking to minority groups, sometimes in black churches.
Voter ID is hardly Wilson's first step into the national political realm. He represented South Carolina in the multistate lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was upheld in a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in June.
Though the court ultimately ruled in favor of the ACA constitutionality, Wilson said the suit wouldn't have come to pass had language inserted by Chief Justice John Roberts declaring the act a tax been included from the start.
"The court technically had to rewrite the facts in order to reach their conclusion," he said.
Wilson also discussed the ongoing ethics initiative he and Gov. Nikki Haley trotted out earlier this summer, saying his aspect of the project focuses mostly on information sharing between government agencies to investigate ethics violations fairly and efficiently.
(c)2012 the Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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