White House battles for voting rights

Attorney General Eric Holder vows to 'fully utilize the law's remaining sections' to protect voting rights of all Americans
Associated Press
Jul 26, 2013

The Obama administration opened an aggressive new front in the battle over voter protection Thursday, singling out Texas for legal action and promising broader efforts to come after last month's Supreme Court ruling that wiped out a major provision of the Voting Rights Act.

It was the administration's first legal response to counter the justices' 5-4 decision, but Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that "it will not be our last."

In a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia, Holder called the Voting Rights Act "the cornerstone of modern civil rights law" and said that "we cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve."

Texas Republicans suggested the administration effort was more about politics.

"This decision has nothing to do with protecting voting rights and everything to do with advancing a partisan political agenda," Sen John Cornyn said after Holder's speech.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the Obama administration seemed to be "sowing racial divide" and accused the administration of joining Texas Democrats with an eye on the 2014 elections. Abbott is running for governor.

The Supreme Court, on June 25, threw out the most powerful part of the Voting Rights Act, whose enactment in 1965 marked a major turning point in black Americans' struggle for equal rights and political power.

Holder said the first Justice Department move would be to ask a federal court in San Antonio to require advance approval for voting changes in Texas, a state riven with political battles, from redistricting to voter ID requirements.

"Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court's ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law's remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected," Holder said.

The Justice Department is asking that a preapproval requirement in Texas apply for 10 years and "beyond 10 years in the event of further discriminatory acts," the department said in a court filing in San Antonio.

The separate provision of the Voting Rights Act that Holder is invoking may be a difficult tool for the Obama administration to use.

A handful of jurisdictions have been subjected to advance approval of election changes through the Civil Rights Act provision it is relying on, but a court first must find that a state or local government engaged in intentional discrimination under the Constitution's 14th or 15th amendments, or the jurisdiction has to admit to discrimination. Unlike in other parts of the voting law, the discriminatory effect of an action is not enough to trigger the so-called bail-in provision.

In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing what's known as a statement of interest in support of private groups that have filed suit.

"The fact that intervention in Texas is the Department of Justice's first action to protect voting rights" following the Supreme Court decision "speaks volumes about the seriousness of Texas' actions," said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio and chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is a plaintiff in the San Antonio case.

North Carolina may become another target for the administration's initiative.

On Wednesday, the Republican-dominated North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval to sweeping election law changes, including a requirement that voters present photo Identification at the polls and a shortening of early voting by a week.

In Texas, Holder said, there is a history of "pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities."

Based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case, "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 its filing in San Antonio, the Justice Department said that "in every redistricting cycle since 1970, courts have similarly found that one or more of Texas' statewide redistricting plans violated the voting guarantees of the Constitution or provisions of the Voting Rights Act."

A three-judge panel in San Antonio has been looking at Texas voting maps for state and congressional redistricting since 2011, when the court threw out boundaries drawn by a then-GOP supermajority in the statehouse.

An ensuing legal battle between the state and a coalition of minority rights groups upset the 2012 elections in Texas, delaying party primaries that ultimately used temporary maps drawn by the court.

Under the direction of GOP Gov. Rick Perry last month, the Legislature ratified those interim maps as permanent over the objection of Democrats, who still contend the maps are biased and underrepresent minorities.

On Thursday, Perry called the Obama administration's actions an "end-run around the Supreme Court."

Last year, a federal court in Washington, D.C., found that Texas lawmakers had intentionally discriminated against minorities in drawing political maps and that the state's voter ID law would disenfranchise minority voters. But the Supreme Court decision throwing out part of the Voting Rights Act removed the power of that court to stop those measures from going into effect.

Minority groups asked the three-judge panel in San Antonio last month to adopt the findings of the District of Columbia court and require Texas to submit all proposed voting-law changes for prior court review. Holder's announcement places the Justice Department on the San Antonio minority groups' side.

Last month, the Supreme Court effectively gutted the part of the Voting Rights Act under which all or parts of 15 mainly Southern states had been required to submit all voting changes for approval from Washington before they could take effect.

The decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said it was no longer fair to subject those jurisdictions to strict federal monitoring based on data that was at least 40 years old. Such extraordinary intrusion on state power to conduct elections could be justified only by current conditions, Roberts said.

"There is no denying, however, that the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions," the chief justice said.

 

Comments

EZOB

Sa, Adams,
I readily admit defeat, you out-did Me!

SamAdams

Ha, ha! Wasn't trying to outdo you. You INSPIRED me! Besides, we're BOTH completely right. :-)

The Big Dog's back

Both completely right wingnuts.

Webster

Which is better than far left wing wackos.

2cents

I guess he plans to reinstate Acorn and provide special standing passes to the Black Panthers at voting places. LMFAO, Holder is a jerk, an appointed one by a Chicago style administration.

I am all for everyone voting and doing it one time per election and a simple photo ID can help that. These can be obtained very easy and should be mandatory.

deertracker

Why all of a sudden do we HAVE to have or Need a photo id to vote? Never needed one for any of the white presidents.

There you go again

Don't you have a photo ID?

eriemom

All opinions posted to this point are preaching to your own choir. When articulating or writing your opinion, please remember that our experiences in small cities, towns, townships and rural areas are quit different from experiences in larger cities and urban areas. There are huge populations who do not own a car, or fly from airports. Maybe even never buy an alcoholic beverage.

shucks

They are off topic.

SamAdams

So they don't have a Driver's License? Okay. What do they use, then, to cash checks? Open bank accounts? Go to school? There are myriad things in daily life for which a photo ID is required. That's why, in addition to Driver's Licenses, states issue State IDs.

YOUR point is moot. No Driver's License or passport needed. Just a photo ID. It's not hard. It's just, apparently, one of those things for which those who DON'T care about voter fraud (or fraudulent crimes of ANY nature, for that matter), doesn't bear thinking about. Maybe that's because illegals can't obtain them...? I'm just asking.

deertracker

It's redundant and unnecessary!

The Big Dog's back

How much voter fraud was at your local precinct sam? How many illegals voted at your local precinct sam?

Webster

Vote the democratic Chicago way, early and often, even death doesn't stop them from voting.

The Big Dog's back

Is this 2013 or 1813? Maybe 1913? The right wingnuts on here want to go back to Jim Crow days.

deertracker

Some of them never left those days behind!

There you go again

Ah, you are trying to create a phoney scandal, aren't you?!?!

Webster

Most of those laws were passed by Southern Democratics.

The Big Dog's back

Southern Conservative Dems who are now Repubs.

SamAdams

Interesting notion, Big Dog. But now I have to ask: Is it ME that's racist because I think voters should present ID -- ALL voters? You know, treated EQUALLY? Or is it YOU that's racist with your implications that non-white people are too stupid, too poor, too irresponsible, or too-SOMEthing to be able to GET an ID?

8ballinthesidepocket

Especially the illegals!!!

grumpy

SCOTUS has already ruled. The Justice dept. will be slapped down. It is really that easy to know what the outcome will be. The States will ignore the Justice dept., the Justice Dept will take it to federal court, the Justice dept, will lose the case. They will have their noses rubbed in it... yet again. It has been decades since the Act has been needed. The Supreme court decided that earlier this year.

Mystery_Cheese

Republicans, Democrats; tomato, tomahto.

Contango

"SS (Nazi Schutzstaffel) means no more in Germany than being a Democrat in America -- that is not to be quoted.

I mean by that that initially the SS people were special sons of bitches, but as the war progressed they ran out of sons of bitches and then they put anybody in there.

Some of the top SS men will be treated as criminals, but there is no reason for trying someone who was drafted into this outfit . . ."

- Gen. George S. Patton, 1945

The Big Dog's back

pooh's news source exposed.
http://gawker.com/the-secret-con...

grumpy

This is what the wiki on Gawker says about your "source"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gawker

Gawker is a blog founded by Nick Denton and based in New York City that bills itself as "the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip". It focuses on celebrities and the media industry.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

And here is another of the "stories" found on Gawker.

Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart sex video[edit]
On August 17, 2009, Gawker obtained and posted an exclusive video of actor Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart naked with beauty queen and former Miss Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche.[29]
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Why am I not surprised at where you look for sources? And what stories those sources carry. Gossip and naked pictures of celebrities .

shucks

What's poop rambling about?

Pete

Union slobs on here have to show a photo ID to vote for their master but heaven forbid to vote for their government.

Brutus will say he doesn't but one cannot believe anything he says. He's a Progressive. And they aren't known for being truthful.

EZOB

I guess the Lefties want to forget about the people in the news right here in Ohio who bragged about voting several times and voting for all their family. Unlike the Left, who refuse ro watch Fox, I tried to take in some of O'Bama's last speach. They applauded as ifd it was the first time they heard those same promises. I asked myself, can these people really have that short of memory? It's really sad, bad they are examples of why our country has fallen from number (1) to number (26). Good News--Bad News---If they onlu polled the crazy right-wingers we'd still be way in front. If they tested the Left (First problem would be what language to use) thy'd fall past (100). I don't mean this as a joke, I'd bet it's the truth.

EZOB

I guess the Lefties want to forget about the people in the news right here in Ohio who bragged about voting several times and voting for all their family. Unlike the Left, who refuse ro watch Fox, I tried to take in some of O'Bama's last speach. They applauded as ifd it was the first time they heard those same promises. I asked myself, can these people really have that short of memory? It's really sad, bad they are examples of why our country has fallen from number (1) to number (26). Good News--Bad News---If they onlu polled the crazy right-wingers we'd still be way in front. If they tested the Left (First problem would be what language to use) thy'd fall past (100). I don't mean this as a joke, I'd bet it's the truth.

The Big Dog's back

Didn't Obama get re-elected in 2012? Why yes he did. Overwhelmingly as a matter of FACT!

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