The U.S. Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit
in federal court today to stop Texas from implementing its strict new voter ID law. The law was passed after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 designating Texas and other states and counties as jurisdictions required to have new voting laws "pre-cleared" by the DoJ. Attorney General Eric Holder had warned last month that he would move against Texas using other portions of the Voting Rights Act not overturned by the Court's 5-4 ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder
In addion, Justice is joining another lawsuit—Perez v. Perry—challenging Texas's congressional and legislative redistricting plans:
“Today’s action marks another step forward in the Justice Department’s continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “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. The Department will take action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs. We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement. 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. This represents the Department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last.”
In the voter ID lawsuit, the United States’ complaint contends that SB 14 was adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit Texas from enforcing the requirements of its law, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject Texas to a new preclearance requirement.
Under the now gutted pre-clearance rule, a District of Columbia federal court declared in 2011 that Texas had failed to prove that its voter ID law and redistricting plans were not discriminatory. That decision was vacated by Shelby
Holder said Thursday: "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. We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement. [...] This represents the department's latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last."
The Texas attorney general's office had no immediate comment on the Justice Department's lawsuit. But Sen. John Cornyn, a former state attorney general, accused Holder of trying to score "cheap political points."
"Facts mean little to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame-duck administration trying to turn our state blue," Cornyn said.
Other Texans are taking a different tack. On Tuesday, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted
3-2 to join Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey seeking a federal injunction against the voter ID law.
Please join us in the fight against Texas's racist voting laws and redistricting laws by signing a petition urging Wendy Davis to run for governor.