Mayor Murphy responds to USDOJ letter regarding nonpartisan elections

USDOJ Letter Reconsidering Info 2012-01-30

Response from Mayor Murphy (signed .pdf) – 2012-02-02
Response from Mayor Murphy (text): 

City of Kinston
Office of the Mayor
207 E. King Street | Kinston, NC  28501

February 2, 2012

Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
Room 7254 – NWB
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Perez:

On February 16, 2009, I sent your office a letter as a private citizen regarding the change to nonpartisan elections with a plurality-vote requirement.  The letter asked your office to uphold the two-thirds majority vote by the citizens of Kinston, NC to change from a partisan to nonpartisan municipal system.  The same year Kinston chose Barack Obama as President, Kinston decided by a 4,924 to 2,756 vote to remove political labels and vote for candidates of choice.   However, Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General, stated “I cannot conclude that the city has sustained its burden of showing that the proposed changes do not have a retrogressive effect…I object to the voting changes on behalf of the Attorney General.” 

In your January 30, 2012 letter, you reference new data from the 2011 municipal elections and minuscule changes in demographics over the past decade.  And, because of that information, your office seems to be wavering in its biased interpretation of an unconstitutional law.  Never mind the fact that the USDOJ’s initial decision is also being challenged and could end up at the United States Supreme Court, a ruling that could strike down Section 5 altogether.  The Attorney General, who was in office during the initial conclusion, seems ready to change his opinion to the exact same thing that 64% of municipal voters concluded three years ago.  This preposterous attempt at trying to weasel out of a legitimate court battle to save face is yet another example of Washington imposing its will over the will of the people. 


USDOJ Letter, Page 2

In the humble opinion of this mayor, the USDOJ abused Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by overturning an overwhelming majority of voters who supported this change by simply ignoring the fact that we are AND continue to be a minority-majority community.  The USDOJ has failed to prove that anyone in these modern times has ever been denied the right to vote based on the color of their skin or the party they choose to affiliate with.  Whether someone decides to cast a vote or not, it is their decision and not the responsibility of the federal government to impose unconstitutional and subjective credentials for an election.

Now that the US Attorney General’s office seems to be flip-flopping its opinions, it bolsters the need for a legal ruling by our nation’s highest court.  I would urge the USDOJ and any parties involved with the legal proceedings to continue litigation until the United States Supreme Court rules on this matter.   Quite simply, the USDOJ seems to be caving under the threat of sound litigation that Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional and being abused by this administration to hand pick winners and losers.


BJ Murphy
Mayor, City of Kinston

Letter as a private citizen: Letter to USDOJ Nonpartisan 2009-02-16 – Signed

BACKGROUND, with stories from:
Kinston Free Press
Washington Times
National Review Online
Fox News
Rush Limbaugh
Sean Hannity/Griff Jenkins