Well known voting rights expert and Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan is slated by the Obama Administration to soon become Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the voting-rights section.
Karlan joins as the department ramps up efforts to attempt to undo the limiting of the Voter’s Rights Act by a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year.
Karlan’s post is not subject to congressional approval, and will most likely cause controversy as the Obama presidency attempts to re-gain federal oversight of voter rights legislation. Karlan’s new job will land her in the spotlight as the DoJ takes on voting restrictions such as limited voting hours and voter ID requirements in states like North Carolina and Texas.
Karlan, 54, has been a leading progressive in judicial circles for decades after her graduation from Yale and clerking for Justice Harry Blackburn. She is also co-author of the most popularly used voting rights textbook.
In 2011, Karlan wrote “Dishonesty and Disdain,” referring to the ‘Roberts Court’ (the five Justices who usually form the majority: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy) as having disdain for the Democratic process:
The Roberts Court’s narrow substantive reading of enumerated powers maps fairly closely onto the contemporary conservative political agenda. To the extent that the conservative agenda gains popular acceptance, the Court may garner acclaim as a guardian of constitutional values. But if the public rejects that agenda, or remains sharply divided, the Court risks being perceived as simply another partisan institution. The Court’s current status rests in substantial measure on its having been on the right side of history in Brown v. Board of Education. Only time will tell whether the Court will retain that status given the choices the Roberts Court is making.
She’s also proven herself to be a huge thorn in the side of conservatives, which will make her selection even more a threat to politicians who try to roll back voting rights.