Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that the Justice Department is asking a federal court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before it makes changes in voting laws in that state for the next decade. This move is the first battle in the struggle for voting rights after the Roberts Court struck down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act last month.
Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act many states across the South, from Texas to North Carolina, have rushed to implement or pass new restrictions on voting eligibility and cutting access to the polls.
Minority groups have already filed suit in Texas to return the state to federal oversight. The Justice Department’s action — filing a “statement of interest” in that case — will bring the weight of the federal government behind those efforts.
In a speech before the National Urban League in Philadelphia, Holder said that the court motion — expected to be filed later on Thursday — was most likely just an opening salvo in a new Obama administration strategy to try to re-impose “preclearance” requirements in parts of the country that have a history of discriminating against minority voters.
“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Attorney General Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court are ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”
The best the Justice Department can expect is for the court to enjoin Texas from enacting their new laws and re-districting map until the new litigation works its way to the Supreme Court. Given the recent ruling of the Robert’s Court, it is not likely the Court would uphold decisions of the lower court, it the lower courts rule in favor of the minorities filing the suits.
The Roberts Court is the most blatantly political in history save the Court that installed Bush in the White House. Justice Roberts worked in the Reagan Administration to undo the Voting Rights Act, and as such, he should have recued himself like Justice Kagan did on legislation she worked on prior to coming to the bench. Roberts is against any laws that protect minority rights from affirmative action to Voting Rights.
Immediately Texas Republicans lashed out attacking the Obama Administration and the Justice Department.
“Once again, it’s the federal government telling the states what they can and can’t do,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). “Even after some defeats on the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court, the administration still continues to thwart the will of the people of Texas.” We’re ending up wasting the taxpayers’ money when the court has already telegraphed that the Voting Rights Act is constitutionally infirm,” he added.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) argued that Holder “is trying to skirt the Supreme Court law” and “single out Texas.”
Gov. Rick Perry cast Mr. Holder’s remarks as an attempt by the Obama administration to weaken what he called the state’s voter-integrity laws and said the comments demonstrated the administration’s “utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances.”
What Governor Perry, Representatives Farenthold and Brady are not admitting is that Congress itself has “singled out Texas” because of its repeated attempts to rig voting laws and re-districting maps to reduce participation in the electoral process by African American and Hispanic citizens, and discriminate against minorities in representation in the state legislature and Congress insuring huge, disproportionate Republican majorities.
Nevertheless, the Justice Department is moving aggressively in hopes of slowing at least this Republican voter suppression train.
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