You might be surprised to hear that the Voters’ Rights Protection Act — a bill aimed at curbing voter suppression and modeled after the federal Voting Rights Act — had virtually no bipartisan support when it passed the Maryland House of Delegates Tuesday. The bill would authorize Maryland’s attorney general to seek injunctive relief against illegal voter suppression before an election takes place.
Republicans claim to fear the bill’s encroachment on First Amendment rights, though as Maryland Reporter quotes Del. Sandy Rosenberg: “We’re talking about force, fraud, threats, intimidation, and bribery. None of that is protected speech under the First Amendment.” The other bone of contention Republicans have is investing this power in the attorney general, a partisan. Under the bill, any injunction the attorney general might seek would require approval from a nonpartisan judge. So I doubt that it could be used fascistically to squelch political dissent.
I think it more likely that abuse of the bill would take the form of selective enforcement. It would be pretty easy for an attorney general to willfully ignore the wrongdoing of political allies and be strict with enemies.
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