DOJ Makes First Move Against States After Voting Rights Ruling

As Congress considers new laws, Attorney General Eric Holder announces plan to review Texas plans before the next election.

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Mark Makela / REUTERS

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the 2013 National Urban League conference in Philadelphia July 25, 2013.

One month after the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act that identified certain states that needed federal permission to change their voting laws, the Obama Administration announced Thursday that it would use a different part of the law to reimpose similar pre-clearance requirements in the state of Texas.

“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 Eric Holder said during a speech to the National Urban League convention in Philadelphia. “My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination whenever it is found.”

The Supreme Court voided the part of the law historically used to limit voting law changes in states like Texas, with histories of discrimination at the ballot box, because of the way the states were identified. But Holder said that the Justice Department would now use other parts of the law to prevent discrimination before elections. These include Section 2, which blocks any racially prejudiced practices, and Section 3, a more obscure provision of the act, that allows federal courts to enforce pre-approval measures for voting changes in states and jurisdictions that engage in blatant discrimination, a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

(MORE: Viewpoint: Voting-Rights Decision Spells the End of Fair Elections)

“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 recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder said.

The Justice Department action against Texas will likely affect the voter identification law State Attorney General Greg Abbott rushed to implement a mere two hours after the Supreme Court decision. And the announcement comes as the state senate in North Carolina, another state that had jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act, is moving forward with a sweeping restrictive voting bill that requires voters to present voter identification at the polls, reduces early voting by a week, ends early registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, and prohibits counties from extending polling hours on election days. Other states like Alabama and Mississippi, once covered by the pre-clearance provisions, have also been considering changes to their voting laws. 

As a result of the move, the Justice Department hopes to maintain the current system, wherein possible discrimination is headed off before an election. “If you only find out about voter discrimination after the elections, the relief is going to be limited,”   said Myrna Perez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice based at New York University School of Law.

(MORE: High Court Rolls Back the Voting Rights Act of 1965)

Since the ruling, Holder has been speaking out against the court’s decision, calling the Voting Rights Act a “cornerstone of civil rights law” while expressing his deep disappointment in June, and referring to it as a “flawed decision” at an NAACP conference last week.

On the federal level, Congress has the power, under the Supreme Court ruling, to establish a new formula for pre-clearance to identify the states that need federal permission to change their laws. On Thursday, Holder reiterated his desire for Congress to take up the call. “After all, this has never been a partisan issue,” he said. “Every reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by a Republican president. It’s a question of our values as a nation. It goes to the heart of who we are as a people.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a key Republican supporter of the Voting Rights Act, says after the August recess, he expects Congress will begin working toward fixing the act. “The important thing is that we fix it right,” Sensenbrenner told TIME. “If we don’t fix it right and it’s found unconstitutional again we’re not going to get another chance.”

But there is no certainty that Congress will act before the next election, prompting Holder’s decision to take action unilaterally. “As this debate unfolds, it’s important for all Americans to note that—despite the Supreme Court’s flawed ruling—our voting rights remain fully intact,” Holder said.

MORE: States Eye Voting Obstacles in Wake of High-Court Ruling

45 comments
snickering
snickering

I pray every night South Carolina is next or right now. The discrimination, the block to minority and  women is unbelievable.  Last election a county (Richland)  the Republicans and they didn't even put out voting machines.  Lines were 8-12 hours long, people of color were turned away.  I'm a white, female, liberal, Democrat, elderly woman and have no representation in South Carolina's Legislature or in the halls of Congress. I and many others reported thi to DOJ with no effect. If you have time or find it in your heart please contact DOJ.

PhilipGalindo
PhilipGalindo

The Attorney General of the United States, the #1 law enforcer of the nation, has publicly stated that there are some laws which he will not enforce. Doesn't that just make the statists giggle with glee.

PhilipGalindo
PhilipGalindo

Any law requiring a person to verify their identity before voting, will be opposed by the left.

Datrebor
Datrebor

Is this about discrimination against Illegals voting in the country, soulds like it. Why doesn't every state require proper ID to vote?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

GOP Congressman Defends Holder On Reinstating Voting Rights Act In Texas

Since Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement Thursday that the Department of Justice would “ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” the reaction from Texas Republicans has been furious. But Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who sponsored the 2006 Voting Rights Act re-authorization, backed the move as legally proper.

Though the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed that the right to vote shall not be abridged on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition servitude,” and expressly granted to Congress the power to enforce that right by “appropriate legislation,” the U.S. Supreme Court held 5-to-4 last month that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is no longer constitutional. That portion of the law had established a formula to determine which jurisdictions were subject to “preclearance” under the act, meaning that new voting laws in those jurisdictions must be reviewed by the Justice Department or a federal court before they can take effect. Sensenbrenner has vowed to find a bipartisan Congressional fix, but others have threatened to hold it hostage to strict voter ID laws.

In the interim, Holder proposed to use a different part of the law — the still intact Section 3 — which bring Texas back under federal supervision if a court finds a recent record of attacks on the constitutional right to be free from race discrimination in voting in the Lone Star State. Texas has sought to institute a voter ID law and a redistricting map that would likely suppress minority voters. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) slammed the move as an “end-run around the Supreme Court.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the move demonstrative of a “longstanding pattern of refusing to follow the law.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) accused the Obama administration of “going around the voters and now the Supreme Court” and “bullying” his state. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) said the attempt to block Texas voter suppression efforts was an “affront to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and is hostile to the Constitution.”

But Sensenbrenner told The Hill on Thursday that these critics were misrepresenting the facts. “The [Justice] department’s actions are consistent with the Voting Rights Act,” he said, noting that Voting Rights Act still allows challenges to changes that would suppress minority voters.

“Increased litigation will be one of the major consequences of the court’s decision as courts will have to litigate more allegations of voter discrimination under Section 2 and whether jurisdictions should be ‘bailed-in’ to preclearance coverage,” he added.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Barack Hussein Obama is destroying freedom in these great United States. Libtards try to twist what our founding fathers meant when they wrote the US Constitution thousands of years ago. All people are not created equal. The people that built this country up from a desert wasteland knew what they were creating and it wasn't some playground for latte drinking communists to spread their lies.

jmac
jmac

"Don't Mess With Texas" !   90-year Old Texas Republican Representative Ralph Hall:   "Texas doesn't agree with him (Obama) on anything so we don't expect anything decent nor legal out of him."

The last of the dying Dixiecrats who went from Democrat to Republican (like Rick Perry) Hall is one of our most outed racist.  He's so bad even the Dallas paper can't recommend him for re-election, and that's bad.  He's as racist as our maps, which are drawn targeting race.  There's no disputing that.  


paulejb
paulejb

  Translation of Eric Holder: Constitution? We don't need no stinking Constitution!

Channah
Channah

Trying to take voting rights from people, not letting women have the say over their own bodies, executing so many people and some may not be guilty of murder----------I am glad I do not live in Texas.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Give EH credit for not running away from the Republicans who have made his life miserable only because he is BO's AG.  EH has done a great job considering the total lack of support in the House of Rep.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

On the federal level, Congress has the power, under the Supreme Court ruling, to establish a new formula for pre-clearance to identify the states that need federal permission to change their laws

-

And it should do so post-haste. Oh, wait. the teatards run the house........

manlyman
manlyman

A white, female, liberal, democrat, elderly woman... you left out liar.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@PhilipGalindoInstead of spewing Hannity insanity, perhaps you should read the post you're commenting on:

"...Holder said that the Justice Department would now use other parts of the law to prevent discrimination before elections. These include Section 2, which blocks any racially prejudiced practices, and Section 3, a more obscure provision of the act, that allows federal courts to enforce pre-approval measures for voting changes in states and jurisdictions that engage in blatant discrimination, a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments."

Holder is enforcing the law.

bobcn
bobcn

@Datrebor

 "...and prohibits counties from extending polling hours on election days"

If you still think this is about voter fraud then try to explain this.  

The only reason to prohibit extending polling hours is to insure that when Dem heavy districts are intentionally under equipped  with voting equipment and voting stations, even if the voters continue to wait in lines anyway they will be prevented from voting.   They passed a law to insure that their voter suppression tricks would succeed and people would be denied their right to vote.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@Datrebor  "Why doesn't every state require proper ID to vote?

Because it's completely unnecessary and undemocratic. There's practically no existing voter fraud because there's practically no way to game the traditional system (you register to vote and then they find your name on the voter role at the polls). Except, of course, by implementing restrictive voter ID requirements that tend to disenfranchise the poor, minorities and students who often vote for Democrats more than Republicans.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@WithGodAsMyWitness Built this country up from a desert wasteland? A lot of desert on the East Coast where the country was founded? And that is just the least ridiculous of your claims.

icepuck68
icepuck68

@jmac  Uh, yeah. OK. 

The blog or opinion posts you're reading in the Morning News is something to really back you up. And yeah, that racist stuff..............pffff

You might want to go take a look at Delaware. They are very short on African Americans in their congress. Evidently their districting is laid out wrong or their Governor is racist like claim. I think Delaware should be added to the Voting Rights Act Ruling.  Go ahead and add R.I., Maryland,  amongst other states up there that have a lower ratio of African Americans in their congress compared to population. So, as I said, does this mean that their districting needs to be redone or are the voters just racist?

roknsteve
roknsteve

@paulejb Voting Rights Act Section 5.  Once again you've showed that you're a dunce.  Try again but you'll still lose.  

manlyman
manlyman

No, you live in never never land.

curt3rd
curt3rd

@Channah "executing so many people and some may not be guilty of murder"  You mean the innocent babies that are murdered by liberals?

icepuck68
icepuck68

@Ohiolib Well, the racist liebetards run the senate so there that went. BTW, why isn't there any African Americans in the Democratic Senate? Racist Democrats.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@manlyman Well, there you have it folks, everybody is a liar in Wingerland.  And how do we know you're really a "manylman?"  Bucket head fits you better. 

icepuck68
icepuck68

@shepherdwong @Datrebor So why doesn't the NCAACP allow the poor, minorities and students into their conferences/speeches? You know, they require an ID to get in. Why don't the Democrats allow the poor, minorities or students into their conventions since they require IDs?

You had to have one to see Holder speak and to attend the 2012 convention. Yet he and Democrats stood right there and tells everybody the requirement hurts minorities. That's either hypocrisy or further proof it's nothing but a lie. 

Datrebor
Datrebor

@mantisdragon91 @WithGodAsMyWitness wrote the US Constitution thousands of years ago? I did not know we "USA" was around during the time of Christ? I missed that history some how in high school. 

manlyman
manlyman

A lower ratio of african americans...hmm... and all these are states that are terminally blue and have been forever.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@icepuck68 @Ohiolib That's because the republican party have rigged most minority districts with short voting hours and no voting machines.  Try again but you'll still lose..

icepuck68
icepuck68

@shepherdwong @icepuck68  Then we'll go this route.

Two things

The signing of the book of the first lady(not invitation), looking on whitehouse.gov you will see that it is a requirement for anybody 18 or older to show a valid photo ID to visit, for the ACLU to take your case you must have a  photo ID, Federal Courts, Holder's office in Washington...I guess that means all of these minorities without ID's can't get these signings nor visit the White House? Your excuse of invitations goes to show that certain minorities would never have a chance of making it.

To use the minority excuse is pathetic. Another lady, white, was saying how so many college students don't have IDs. How did she get into college? She has to register every year. How?

Since the US citizens have to register to vote, ID required, or re-register if they move or change their name how would that work?

dnno1
dnno1

@icepuck68 @shepherdwong @Datrebor, bodies public, like the NAACP or the Democratic party are not government organization and are not subject to constitutional restrictions when it comes to voting within their organization or admitting persons to their functions.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@icepuck68  "So why doesn't the NCAACP allow the poor, minorities and students into their conferences/speeches? You know, they require an ID to get in."


Really? Because admission to NAACP events are restricted to people who are invited. Voting in the United States is restricted only to US citizens who register to vote. You people really are thicker than meatloaf.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@Paul,nnto @TyPollard @WithGodAsMyWitness 

He got me for  awhile the other day. 

He was pretending to be a reverse racist and I called him out for the racism before I realized it was him.

None of our regular trolls called out obvious racism coming from their side.

That is the difference between us and them.


icepuck68
icepuck68

@dnno1 @icepuck68 @jmac  Uh, we must be talking about something different. I'm referring to their state senate and hor. They have numerous districts. I don't see all of those HOR's and Senators coming from one district.


icepuck68
icepuck68

@manlyman  This was a chart that the Black Caucus put out. It was thrown at me by someone discussing almost the same things. It showed the #'s of congressmen/women in each party (2009)and the +/- ratio by population. Delaware was the second worse. Yes, the Voter's Right states were still negative, but so was a total of 43 states. He threw Alaska, who had 0, at me who must have at least 4 AAs(African Americans). I looked deeper into this. No AA was running for office. Arizona was behind but only 1 Dem. was currently running for office. Correction, another Republican was running. Are the Dems going to vote for him? There is much more to this than simply not having enough in your congress. What if a black Anthony Weiner was running? Is he to automatically be put into office? A black Republican? Holder is now attacking TX(ranked 15th). Going by the 2012 election(Blue/Red states), Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin, RI, Minn and Penn all have worse ratios of AA in their congress(that's half of those ahead of TX). This is nothing but a show he's putting on and proof that, if this is a race issue, it's spread throughout the country.

icepuck68
icepuck68

@roknsteve @icepuck68 @Ohiolib LMAO

Pssssssssssst, Senators don't come from an individual city or county. There are only two from a state. Those White Folk up there in those Liberal states just must not like African Americans in their Senate.

It's even funnier how you're claiming that this happened all across the country in every single state. All those Democratic states messed up.