The US attorney general will ask a federal court to reinstate a portion of the Voting Rights Act that implements safeguards against voter suppression in the state of Texas.
Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement on Thursday
while speaking at the National Urban League in
Philadelphia. Holder said the US Justice Department will
seek a federal court order forcing Texas to acquire federal
approval before changing any of its voting laws.
In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down
Section 4b of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required
certain states and jurisdictions to obtain preclearance before
passing any new voting laws. Prior to June 25, states and
counties that were once considered to have discriminatory
tendencies were required to obtain this preclearance.
But just two hours after the Supreme Court ruled that
discrimination is not extensive enough to warrant the
restrictions in southern states, Texas began to advance a voter
ID law and redistricting map that were blocked last year for
their discriminatory tendencies against blacks and Latinos.
“Texas may now implement the will of the people without being
subject to outdated and unnecessary oversight and the overreach
of federal power,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said after the
But Texas may soon be subject to federal oversight once again.
Holder announced that the Justice Department “will ask a
federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a
preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of
the Voting Rights Act.” The Supreme Court struck down the
section that listed states required to obtain preclearance, but
kept the section that provided the formula for such a
restriction. And under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, a
state can be brought back under the preclearance requirement if
found to be violating the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments.
Opponents of Texas’ voter ID law argue that it would
disenfranchise poor minority voters who would be unable to
provide necessary documentation to obtain a state sanctioned ID
card required to vote. Efforts to draw up new legislative maps
“consciously replaced many of [a] district’s active Hispanic
voters with low-turnout Hispanic voters in an effort to
strengthen the voting power of [the district’s] Anglo
citizens,” Holder noted. He concluded that due to “the
evidence of intentional racial discrimination” in Texas, the
Justice Department must take action to once again subject the
state to the preclearance requirement.
“This is the department’s first action to protect voting
rights following the [Supreme Court’s] decision,” Holder said
in his announcement. “But it will not be our last. Even as
Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of
the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize
the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of
all American citizens are protected.”
Texas officials have blasted Holder’s remarks and condemned the
Obama administration for exercising too much power.
“Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter
contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to
mention the U.S. Constitution. This end-run around the Supreme
Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts
unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve
the integrity of our elections process,” Gov. Perry said in a
The burden of proof now lies with the federal government, which
must show that the state of Texas has demonstrated discriminatory
tendencies that require it to be subject to special scrutiny.
Republished from: RT