Department of Justice Files Suit Against Texas Voting Law

Attorney General Holder announced the Department is suing Texas over the state’s new voter ID law and 2011 redistricting maps.

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Mark Makela / REUTERS

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

The Department of Justice announced Thursday it will be filing a lawsuit against the state of Texas, the Secretary of State and the director of the state’s Department of Public Safety over its newly implemented voter identification law. The Department is also filing a motion to intervene as a party in a redistricting case in the state.

In July, the Justice Department asked a court in Texas to “bail-in” the state under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which would require the state to gain permission from the DOJ before enacting new voting laws. The  Department’s latest action against the state says Texas’ voter ID law violates both Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments.

“We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

In 2012, a federal court in Washington found the Texas voter ID law and the redistricting plans to be discriminatory against certain race and language groups. In June, however, when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the decisions of the court were thrown out.  Section 4 determined what states needed to seek permission from the federal government before enacting new voting laws, and without it Texas and 14 other states with a history of voter discrimination are free to enact voting laws without federal pre-clearance.

Just hours after the announcement of the decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the redistricting maps and voter ID law, which originally passed in 2011, would take effect immediately.

The Justice Department’s suit against the law says it was enacted to prevent people of certain race and minority language groups from voting, and asks that Texas be bailed-in to the preclearance requirements under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. The Department also contends that the state’s 2011 redistricting maps were designed for the same purpose—to prevent certain minority groups from voting. In that case, the Department is also seeking to bail-in Texas under Section 3.

“We are determined to use all available authorities, including remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act, to guard against discrimination and, where appropriate, to ask federal courts to require preclearance of new voting changes,” Holder said.  “ This represents the Department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last.”

North Carolina, whose governor recently signed sweeping voting provisions into law last week, is likely to face similar scrutiny in the coming months.

58 comments
Kutadgubilig
Kutadgubilig

@TIMEPolitics Enemies of Islam, justice and humanity, massacred children in Syria. UN and fake humanist organisations support them as always

sacredh
sacredh

We're heading quickly to a demographic situation where whites will be the minority in 30-35 years. The percentage of the white vote vote drops 2% every four years.  The last two elections have shown that America will elect a man from a minority group that represnets only 13% of the overall population. People had better hope than minority voters now have short memories.

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

SO WHY DOESN'T DOJ ERIC HOLDER AND HIS MINIONS WANT TO SUE TEXAS OVER ITS ID LAWS?


OBAMA'S THRALL DOESN'T WANT ANY VOTING ID LAWS, AS THEN NON-CITIZENS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VOTE ILLEGALLY?



Stop this travesty over voting laws. Demand the federal government issue every citizen a biometric social security card. This digital ID card will display your photograph, fingerprint or iris scan and will not only halt voter fraud as in the presidential election by non-citizens, but will detect foreigners in the workplace and as an additional incentive bring to an end credit theft. Everybody will then be satisfied, hopefully except for the Liberals as they want all to vote... including non-citizens?

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan AG shld sue VOTER SUPPRESSION .STOP calling it VOTER ID. GOPers have been hiding behind Voter ID which is OK

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan VALID documentations shld include SSN MEDICARE utility bill MAKE it Easy and Cheap or Free GOV ID makes sense

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan SAMS club issues a PHOTO ID in 5 minutes with a computer & Cam attached. POST OFFICE & POLLING places cld do it

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan FED gov should say how to get a Voter ID using SSN and photo STUDENT IDs should be accepted in ALL States.

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan CANNOT understand why FED not tell the STATES mind your own BIZ. Federal ELECTIONS shld have a NATIONAL regulations

nami13
nami13

@AriMelber @m_rhodan VOTER ID is a good idea.MAKE it EASY -FREE..Those laws hide behind ID to SUPPRESS VOTERS.STUDENT should RAISE HELL

jmac
jmac

Senator John Cornyn of Texas has "denounced the Justice Department's lawsuit, calling it an attack on 'the sovereign affairs of Texas  and a lame-duck administration trying to turn our state blue.'"

Why don't Cornyn, Cruz and Perry just secede Texas from the Union?   They're still fighting the Civil War and they lost that war a long time ago.  

marvuhles
marvuhles

@TIME @TIMEPolitics glad theres nothing happening anywhere else in the nation/world that requires the administrations attention.

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

Glad to see North Carolina is already mentioned. The law just passed here is jaw-droppingly awful.

eagle11772
eagle11772

The states have the RIGHT to pass their own laws regarding voting, IF they choose to give their citizens the right to vote at all (all have obviously done so over the years).  But there is NO U.S. Constitutional "right to vote" !  If a state chooses not to allow their citiznes to vote, that is their ABSOLUTE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.

Kutadgubilig
Kutadgubilig

@TIMEPolitics Enemies of Islam massacred children in Syria and Egypt. UN and fake humanist organisations support military forces as always

manlyman
manlyman

Why don' t we drop the word minority sacred. American is the word I like to use.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Gee, that's great.  The nearest Sam's is 73 miles away.  I'll remember that!

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

If you don't think that Texas would bring back slavery if they thought they could get by with it, you don't know the south.  These people are terrified that a non-white might get elected to any office.  This is all over the south.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

NC state GOTP are so concerned about an intelligent vote from college students in Boon County where Appalaciabn State College is located that they shut every precinct except one which will have 9,600 registered voters, has 35 parking spaces, and is off all major transportation routes.  They also voted to have polls close at the annointed time, regardless of whether there is a line or not.  These people really hate having educated people vote since it is obvious that their Tea Party Brotherhood isn't. Of course, the way they have screwed up their schools, it will only be a few years and they all will be as dumb as a bag of rocks, very dumb rocks.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

The right to voter is in the same document that allows them to wave those damn guns around except the voting right is in the body of the document and the militia thing in the 2nd amendment was a last minute add-on to help catch slaves.

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

@eagle11772 Amendments to the Constitution count, you know. At least five separate Amendments to the Constitution address the right to vote, specifically preventing states from restricting the right of citizens to vote.

sacredh
sacredh

@manlyman, because these bogus voter ID laws are nothing more than voter supression primarily aimed at minorities. 

manlyman
manlyman

So a kid can get into college but can't find a way to procure an id. Gotcha.

manlyman
manlyman

What race are you artrav?

eagle11772
eagle11772

@LeahPetersen @eagle11772 Those amendments apply ONLY IF a state CHOOSES to give citizens a right to vote under their state constitution or state laws. There is NO U.S. Constitutional requirement that they do so.  AND IN FACT, the last SCOTUS case to specifically address this issue was Bush v. Gore (2000) and SCOTUS SPECIFICALLY SAID that there is NO general "right to vote" in the U.S. Constitution.  READ the Bush v. Gore decision.  There is a widespread myth in this country that there is some "Constitutional Right To Vote", but it ain't true, and it ain't there !  STUDY U.S. Constitutional Law as I have done.

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

@manlymanThere are actually tons of legitimate reasons people might not have a current North Carolina state-issued ID, might not need one for any other reason than to vote. Student IDs are not valid for voting purposes anymore. Lots of college kids live on campus and don't have a car and therefore no need to have a valid in-state state-issued ID. (Even if they did drive, an out of state license is all they need for that, but that won't work for voting.) Early registration (17 year olds who will be old enough to vote in the next election) has been eliminated as well as same-day registration. And why? SUPPOSEDLY this is to prevent in-person voter fraud which no one can find any proof of and has only been found to happen a handful of times among MILLIONS of voters nationwide. It's statistically more likely, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, for the voting booth to be struck by lightning than for anyone to try to commit voter fraud in it.

Real voter fraud happens at a might higher level, where people in power manipulate results or restrict access to voting. Hundreds of thousands are being disenfranchised in order to prevent the possible and rare person who might try to vote fraudulently in-person from doing so. Early voting has been severely reduced. Not only that, but counties have been burdened with all these new requirements with no money provided to make this happen. So there will be even less access than still allowed by law simply due to lack of resources. The new laws also ENCOURAGE vigilantism and harassment at the voting booth. They could hardly have done more to restrict access to voting unless they specifically said "people who won't vote for us can't vote."

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

You obviously can't read.  They have 9600 voters in a single voting precinct with 35 parking spaces.  That means those spaces have to turn over 274 times EACH over the short period the polls are open and no poll workers use those spots..  The college students have IDs but they don't want them voting in the town where they go to school because they could win an election and maybe have open government, not the Tea Party way. But the election is during the school year but they want to force them to go home but they are registered in Boone County.  I bet they have only one machine having lived in that state for 7 years. It is the hateful way, the GOTP way!

NP042
NP042

@manlyman

What race are you [NP]?


It usually depends on what class I'm playing.  I went with a Nord this time.  If I ever get around to a second playthrough I'd probably go for one of the elven races.



Wait, we're not talking about Skyrim?

sacredh
sacredh

@La_Randy, a person that doesn't face discrimination or have roadblocks thrown up at every turn doesn't see anything wrong with these efforts, unless they're infected by that insidious disease called liberalism.

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

@eagle11772 @jmac @LeahPetersen I didn't say I didn't understand that there's no explicit right to vote. Yes, a state COULD prevent, and HAS prevented its citizens from voting in federal elections at all, but no one would stand for it today. On the state level they would require access to vote in federal elections, which then evokes all the protections of the amendments which, if they don't grant an explicit right to vote, they codify equal access. If anyone can vote, everyone must be allowed to vote. (Barring reasonable restrictions like age and criminal activities, etc.) Your argument is factually correct and functionally meaningless.

eagle11772
eagle11772

@LeahPetersen @eagle11772 George Washington became the first POTUS in 1789 when the capital of the USA was The City of New York.  Although Washington was elected POTUS in 1789, and New York was the capital of the USA, NOT A SINGLE NEW YORKER voted for Washington because they DID NOT HAVE THE  RIGHT TO DO SO.  South Carolina was one of the original 13 states, and its electors voted in the Electoral College for POTUS in 1789 (unlike New York which was not able to do so), yet in the federal elections of 1789 THRU 1832, a period of 43 years, and 12 POTUS elections, NOT A SINGLE SOUTH CAROLINA CITIZEN voted in those POTUS elections BECAUSE THEY DD NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO.  Now IF there is some "federal RIGHT TO VOTE" as you and so man of your ill-informed cohorts mistakenly believe, then how is it possible that New York and South Carolina were able to prevent their citizens from voting for POTUS ???  The answer: Because there IS NO FEDERAL RIGHT TO VOTE !

tom.litton
tom.litton

@eagle11772 @Irony @LeahPetersen I believe Irony is saying the exact same thing i am.  The right to vote issue is irrelevant.  They are saying the law violates the 14th amendment and the voting rights act (at least the parts that were just upheld by the supreme court).

I have not studied constitution law, but i don't see how the right to vote issue applies at all.  They are not saying no one can vote.  They are making it harder for specific types of people to vote.  

It would be the exact same issue if the government were making it harder for specific types of people to get aid, or government jobs, or use any government provided service / program.

eagle11772
eagle11772

@Irony  @LeahPetersen WRONG !  READ the U.S. Constitution and UNDERSTAND it.  The U.S. Constitution gives to the STATES, the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT to set voting requirements, as long as any such laws do not violate the U.S. Constitution.  This is well settled law.  And if what i said was NOT TRUE, then why on earth would liberal Democrats be sponsoring a "Right To Vote" Amendment for the U.S. Constitution ???  I studied U.S. Constitutional Law in college (I decided not to go to law school).  Apparently you have not studied U.S. Constitutional Law.  Instead of arguing about this endlessly, why don't you just ask the the Democratic representatives who sponsored the amendment, or ask the ACLU, or some other knowledgeable person or organization whom you respect on these matters ?

Irony
Irony

@eagle11772 @LeahPetersen The fact that a state can decline to hold a vote is interesting, but has nothing whatsoever to do with this case. The state of Texas is not considering bowing out of future elections, it is participating, but taking measures to systematically prevent certain "kinds" from having an equal say. THAT is what people are referring to when they talk about a "right to vote" and your hemming and hawing about unrelated esoterica does not make their actions less illegal.

eagle11772
eagle11772

@jmac  @TyPollard @LeahPetersen You obviously do not understand them.  they apply ONLY if a state CHOOSES to give their citizens a right to vote.  Many states chose not to do so in the past.  As liberal Democratic representative Mark Pocan correctly pointed out, in introducing his proposed constitutional amendment: There is no right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.  If thee were, his proposed amendment, putting that right in there, would not be necessary.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@eagle11772 @LeahPetersen That is interesting, but not relevant.  They are saying the law is discriminating against minorities, which is clearly against the 14th amendment.

jmac
jmac

@eagle11772 @TyPollard @jmac @LeahPetersen I say this is a waste of time.  Kind of like trying to pass the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment).  

We have amendments to the Constitution and some of us believe they are constitutional.  

eagle11772
eagle11772

@TyPollard @eagle11772 @jmac @LeahPetersen Just recently, liberal Democratic congressmen Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced a U.S. Constitutional Amendment specifically proving a "RIGHT TO VOTE" in the U,S, Constitution. Representative Pocan said: "“Most people believe that there already is something in the Constitution that gives people the right to vote, but unfortunately … there is no affirmative right to vote in the Constitution. We have a number of amendments that protect against discrimination in voting, but we don’t have an affirmative right.”  so I say: "Perhaps this amendment should be passed and ratified."

eagle11772
eagle11772

@jmac @eagle11772 @LeahPetersen There is still NO "right to vote" in the U.S. Constitution.  If there were, South Carolina would not have prevented their citizens from voting in federal elections for 40 years (which they did !)  Ask a lawyer of law professor if you disbelieve me.  Or just search the web.  There is NO federal constitutional "right to vote" !

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

@eagle11772 @LeahPetersen Oh, I didn't realize you were positing a situation in which no one in an entire state was allowed to vote. What an interesting democracy that would be...

jmac
jmac

@eagle11772 @LeahPetersen  Did you not listen to those conservative judges in Bush v. Gore?????   They were very very clear that you can't quote Bush v. Gore on any other case.  No precedent here, baby!  

LOL.