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Texas sued: Why the Justice Department will 'mess with Texas'

Texas sued: The US Justice Department sued the state of Texas on Thursday over Texas's voter ID law. The Justice Department is also investigating potentially discriminatory redistricting laws that Texas Republicans insist protect elections against fraud.

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Texas state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa looks at maps on display prior to a Senate Redistricting committee hearing, in Austin, Texas, May 30. Attorney General Eric Holder says Texas is the first place that he will intervene to defend against what he calls attacks on the voting rights of minorities, but it is also the only state where the federal government has a clear opportunity to get involved, experts say.

Eric Gay/AP/File

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The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday over the state's voter ID law and will seek to intervene in a lawsuit over its redistricting laws that minority groups complain are discriminatory, but Texas Republicans insist are designed to protect the state's elections from fraud.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the action marks another step in the effort to protect voting rights of all eligible Americans. He said the government will not allow a recent Supreme Court decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights.

"This represents the department's latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last," the attorney general said.

Holder is concentrating on Texas because of years of litigation over the state's voter ID law and redistricting maps that federal judges in Washington have determined would either indirectly disenfranchise minorities and the poor, or intentionally discriminate against minorities.

Texas is the only state found to have intentionally discriminated against minorities in this decade's round of redistricting, and the state was banned from enforcing either law. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring revisions to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was seen by some as taking away the judges' authority to intervene.

That has forced Holder and minority groups to use other aspects of the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution to fight the cases in other federal courts.

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