Attorney General Eric Holder is messing with Texas.
Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require that Texas get clearance from the Justice Department before making any new changes to voting laws over the next decade.
The move comes about a month after the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and signals a new front in the Justice Department’s political battle with states over imposing new rules and restrictions on voting.
In a speech given at the annual National Urban League conference in Philadelphia, Holder said his request to the federal court in San Antonio, Texas, would be on the basis of a preclearance provision similar to that of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
“This request to ‘bail in’ the state – and require it to obtain ‘pre-approval’ from either the department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes – is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found,” Holder said, according to prepared marks distributed by the Justice Department.
“Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognised – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”
It is the department’s first action following the Supreme Court’s controversial 5-4 decision last month, but Holder vowed that it will “not be our last.” Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s decision last month, five states went ahead with voter ID laws — some of which were found discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.
Section 4, which was struck down by the Supreme Court, determines the “coverage formula” for determining the states that are actually subjected to the law. Here’s what the court held: “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.
Gov. Rick Perry’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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