Attorney General Eric Holder filed a lawsuit against the redistricting law signed by Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, arguing that it violates the Voting Rights Act and demonstrates that federal review of Texas election laws remains necessary.
“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,” Holder said in a statement on the Justice Department’s lawsuit. “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.”
The redistricting law 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,” according to DOJ, which is also challenging the recently-passed voter ID law in Texas.
The Justice Department thus has two chances to bring Texas’ election law back under federal control. “If the federal courts in either the redistricting or voter identification cases find that the State of Texas should be covered by Section 3(c), then the State would be required to submit voting changes to the U.S. Attorney General or to the federal court for review prior to implementation to ensure that the changes do not have a discriminatory effect or a discriminatory purpose,” DOJ explains.
Texas moved to implement the two laws after the Supreme Court ruled last session in Shelby County v. Holder that the Justice Department could not decide which states required continuing oversight based on racial discrimination data collected in 1965.
“[I]t is unconstitutional to require states like Texas to obtain advance approval from the federal government before election laws can take effect,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said on June 28, 2013 citing the court’s ruling.