Voting Rights Act fallout: Holder signals tough stance on Texas
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department would urge a federal judge to order Texas to continue to submit all election law changes to Washington for preapproval. Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act.
The Justice Department is unveiling a new tactic in its long-running battle with Texas over the drafting of election districts and its new voter ID law, setting the stage for what promises to be a new round of tough litigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that the department’s civil rights division would urge a federal judge to order Texas to continue to submit all election law changes to Washington for preapproval.
The action would effectively reimpose the same preclearance requirements that the US Supreme Court rendered inoperative when it struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act last month.
In its ruling, the high court declared that Congress did not properly identify which jurisdictions should be covered and which should not. By invalidating the coverage formula in Section 4 of the VRA, the court left the preclearance requirements in Section 5 also inoperative.
But there is another section of the voting rights law, Section 3, which authorizes a federal judge to order a state or local jurisdiction to comply with Section 5 oversight authority. A federal judge can impose such a requirement once the judge has determined that the jurisdiction engaged in intentional voting discrimination that violated constitutional rights.
Mr. Holder said Justice Department lawyers will cite a three-judge panel decision striking down Texas redistricting plans as discriminatory. The court action, he said, was proof of discrimination and would justify such a court order.
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