In a letter today, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) urged the acting attorney general to fire voting rights section chief John Tanner. Citing Tanner's remarks earlier this month that "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first," Obama wrote that "Through his inexcusable comments, Mr. Tanner has clearly demonstrated that he possesses neither the character nor the judgment to be heading the Voting Rights Section." He concluded: "For that reason, I respectfully request that you remove him from his position."
Tanner made the comments as justification for his decision to overrule Justice Department staff attorneys and approve a Georgia voter ID law that was subsequently halted by a federal appeals court. Tanner made the novel argument that such laws actually discriminate against whites.