07.26.2013 1

Eric Holder v. Texas

By Robert Romano

Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act because there was no longer evidence of voter suppression of minorities in affected states based on U.S. Census data, the political left in the U.S. has been rumbling for another way to still enforce the Act against southern states anyway.

Use Section 3, wrote MSNBC’s Adam Serwer on July 8, citing a 2010 Yale Law Journal article urging the same by Travis Crum. According to the Crum analysis “Section 3 authorizes federal courts to place states and political subdivisions that have violated the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments under preclearance.”

But, there has to be discriminatory intent in a proposed change of law being proposed in order to bring a Section 3 action against a state to be “bailed-in” into the Section 5 preclearance regime. That would mean any changes to election law, including voter identification and redistricting, need to be approved by the Department of Justice or federal court.

Enter Attorney General Eric Holder who, on July 25, told the National Urban League that he would do just that.

“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,” said Holder.

In 2012, Texas’ original plan for redistricting was struck down by federal court and so was its voter identification law the same year because the costs would supposedly disparately impact minorities who tend to be poor. The redistricting was redone.

After the Supreme Court decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott declared that it meant that the ID law could also go into effect. Since then, the state has begun issuing free voter cards — presumably to get around the court’s previous objection that the identifications could not be costly.

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry responded to Holder almost immediately, declaring, “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.”

True the Vote, a Texas-based non-profit that supports voter identification laws too opposed Holder’s move, “Every American voter deserves to have his or her vote counted — and not diluted by fraud or error. The Department of Justice just put itself between the voters of Texas and their guaranteed constitutional and civil rights,” said the group’s President Catherine Engelbrecht.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. 

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