Fired-Up GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy Takes Apart Argument That Voter ID Laws Are Racist During House Hearing

Known for his fiery tirades on the House floor, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Tuesday blasted the Justice Department’s assertion that voter ID laws are discriminatory to minorities. Using South Carolina’s voter ID law as an example, Gowdy dismantled the race-based argument against such legislation in about 5 minutes.

“South Carolina passed a voter ID law in 2011…and in 2011 one-third of South Carolina’s congressional delegation was African-American,” Gowdy said. “I may be mistaken, I suspect that South Carolina’s percentage of African-American members of Congress may have been the highest in the country in 2011.”

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., gives his opening remarks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, during the committee’s hearing on America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration. Credit: AP

He went on: “And as we now know, one of two African-American United States senators are from South Carolina (Sen. Tim Scott)… In addition South Carolina’s governor is of Indian descent. Further to same, South Carolina’s voter ID law was similar if not less restrictive than those DOJ had pre-cleared in New Hampshire, Virginia, and Georgia. And, moreover, South Carolina’s plan was similar, if not less restrictive, to plans approved outside of DOJ pre-clearance in states like Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana – which, incidentally, was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court – Idaho, South Dakota, and Michigan.”

He followed up by pointing out that South Carolina’s voter ID law makes it easier for people to get a photo ID and to cast provisional ballots.

The fired-up congressman also set his sights on a professor who was testifying before the committee against voter ID laws, claiming that they disproportionately discriminate against minorities. He relentlessly grilled the academic, challenging his arguments on several levels.

“There was a 1.6 percent difference in African-Americans who had accepted photo IDs – acceptable photo IDs – and white South Carolinians,” Gowdy said before adding, “Twenty years ago, when I was working on voting rights cases, that was considered de minimis.”

He also said that African-Americans in South Carolina are 1.6 percent less likely to be able to board an aircraft or enter a federal courthouse, as both require a valid photo ID.

It cost South Carolina $3.5 million to fight against the challenge to its voter ID law, a battle that the state ultimately won, he explained.

“I’m sorry for the Department of Justice that they put politics ahead of the law,” Gowdy added.

Watch the entire exchange below:

(H/T: Noah Rothman, Mediaite)