Holder Is Trying To Mess With Texas As He Ignores Surpreme Court Ruling

In a move that drew the ire of Texas officials, Attorney General Eric Holder  said Thursday the Justice Department will ask a San Antonio-based federal court  to force Texas to get permission from the federal government before it can make  any additional changes to its voting and election laws.

The challenge to Texas’ authority comes after the U.S. Supreme Court struck  down a portion of the Voting Rights Act. The high court’s 5-4 decision  invalidated a rule that singled out certain states, like Texas and North  Carolina, and forced them to get Justice Department approval before changing  their election rules.

The Voting Rights Act was a major turning point in black Americans’ struggle  for equal rights and political power. The court did not unravel the law itself,  but questioned the validity of the allegedly outdated criteria used to select  which states would be singled out.

Following the decision, Holder had publicly pledged to aggressively use his  department’s power to block or halt any new state laws it views as  discriminatory. He took his first step in that direction on Thursday.

Holder, during a speech to the Urban League in Philadelphia, said that based  on evidence of racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case  in Texas, “we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a  preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and  practices.”

Texas officials blasted the comments.

“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. Rick Perry said in a  statement.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn accused Holder of trying to go around the  high court. “This decision has nothing to do with protecting voting rights and  everything to do with advancing a partisan political agenda,” Cornyn  said.

But Holder, in calling for the court action, said that in Texas, there is a  history of “pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial  minorities.”

It is the department’s first action to address the voting rights law  following the Supreme Court’s decision on June 25, “but it will not be our  last,” Holder said.

In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing  what’s known as a statement of interest in support of the private groups that  have filed suit.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio has been looking at Texas voting maps  since 2011, when the court threw out boundaries drawn by a then-GOP  supermajority in the statehouse.

Under the direction of GOP Gov. Rick Perry last month, the Legislature  ratified those interim maps as permanent over the objection of Democrats, who  still believe the maps are biased and underrepresent minorities.

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