EDITORIAL: Photo ID is OK for NAACP rally, but not at voting booth

One law for me, another for thee

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Participants in a march and rally sponsored by the NAACP got a list of “do’s and don’ts” when they assembled last week. “DO wear a hat and very comfortable shoes” and “DO bring photo identification (driver’s license, passport or other valid photo ID) with you and keep it on your person at all times.”

Left off the list was “DO as we say, and DON’T do as we do.”

This is the same outfit that is among the loudest and shrillest critics of the requirement in North Carolina and about three-dozen other states that voters must present identification with a photograph.

The NAACP insists this requirement is discriminatory, even though the requirement applies to everybody.

This annual North Carolina march has grown in importance and intensity among liberals since Republicans won the North Carolina governorship and a supermajority in the state’s General Assembly in 2012.

William J. Barber II, president of the state NAACP chapter, began organizing “Moral Monday” demonstrations last year to protest what he and others on the left call “immoral” legislation enacted by the state’s Republican-majority legislature, including common-sense abortion restrictions, reductions of unemployment benefits and an election-law overhaul that includes the voter-ID requirement.

The left has never raised objections to having to show an ID to buy tobacco or alcohol, to rent a car or a hotel room or to board an airliner. Most Democrats don’t blink an eye at the government spending millions on “license checkpoints” where drivers who have done nothing wrong are required to stop at a roadblock and “show their papers,” such as they are.

But they won’t countenance a far less intrusive ID requirement in the interest of making sure that “one man, one vote” means exactly that. For the NAACP, it’s more important that you are who you say you are when you participate in a political rally than when you show up to vote on Election Day.

It’s against this backdrop that Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, is working on legislation on Capitol Hill that would return to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., the legal weapon the Supreme Court took away when it invalidated the so-called “preclearance” provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Mr. Holder had used these provisions to punish states from Alabama and South Carolina to Arizona for making changes to their election laws to make sure that those who shouldn’t be voting, don’t. These states require no more than the NAACP does at its own rallies.

Mr. Sensenbrenner is no fan of Mr. Holder, and his legislation would restore preclearance while specifically preventing the attorney general from meddling with legitimate photo-ID requirements.

This Justice Department, the most partisan in decades, has no reluctance to abuse the law for partisan political advantage. The attorney general must be restrained.

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