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

Contango

AG Holder: Continuing to fan the flames of racial hatred and bigotry.

MiddleRight

Mr. Holder’s violations of the law are egregious and he should not be immune from the prosecution or given license to act without restraint.

An ordinary citizen would go to jail for selling guns to Mexican drug cartels.

An ordinary citizen would go to jail for secretly obtaining phone records and emails.

An ordinary citizen would go to jail for lying to Congress about an investigation.

What would happen to an ordinary citizen for lying to a judge?

This is just a small part of what Attorney General Eric Holder is responsible for.

santown419

Where the h### do you get at that he is fanning racial hatred? You really need to get off of false news using their talking points whenever it comes to anything is crazy

deertracker

Preach!

santown419

Where the h### do you get at that he is fanning racial hatred? You really need to get off of false news using their talking points whenever it comes to anything is crazy

shucks

They are crazed by hatred , they can't read or think straight.

The article is about abuse of voting rights by the Republicans .

deertracker

Crazed by hatred for anything related to President Obama!

shucks

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shucks

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shucks

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shucks

Off topic.

grumpy

The federal gov't doesn't like being forced to obey the Constitution. SCOTUS slapped their fingers and now they are throwing a tantrum. This time they will get their nose swatted harder. Much like piddle puppies, they don't learn well nor quickly. Noses must be rubbed in it numerous times. Hopefully they won't learn to like having their noses rubbed in it.

donutshopguy

We waste so much money on other countries and pork belly projects. Why can't we provide citizens in this country with photo identification?

Problem sovled.

In fact, it would probably help in voter fraud issues.

Contango

Re: "Why can't we provide citizens in this country with photo identification?"

The stoopid libers hate that. But since they LOVE Big Brother, they'd probably be OK with an RFID chip shoved up their tuckus. :)

The New World Czar

It's called checks and balances. The Supreme Court struck down the portion of the Voting Rights Act.

Let Holder and his band of Sandinistas try and challenge, it will be like sticking one's hand into a hornet's nest.

Darwin's choice
Darwin's choice
registerer

The need for a photo id for daily living is almost a must for everyone if current laws are followed. Go to the gas station to buy alcohol? Technically a photo id is required. Every time I have renewed my license plates I have been asked for a photo id. Cashing a check? Photo id is asked in almost every circumstance. Boarding a plane? Photo id required. The list could go on and on.

To solve the problem of those who are to "poor" or "afraid" or are "transportation" challenged there is a simple solution! None of the above mentioned problems stop them from getting gov't handouts so when they apply for the freebies from the gov't one of the items they receive should be an id card.

EZOB

The headline to the story should have read, "Attorney General Holder wants to protect "Voting" rights for Non-Americans.

SamAdams

Other more appropriate headlines might include:

"AG Holder tries another end-run around Constitution"
"AG Holder works to create new Democrats by any means"
"AG Holder interferes with states' rights -- AGAIN"

...and with the inevitable follow-up story to be entitled

"Department of Justice head suggests new name for Department since 'Justice' is no longer appropriate"

Centauri

History has many lessons to teach. People seem to forget what happened weeks ago let alone years or decades ago.

Holder needs to be indicted for abusing his position, crimes against the people and crimes against this nation. There is a long list of crimes that Holder committed including false testimony.

I look back on both Democrat and Republican Attorney Generals and try to compare them side by side. It appears to me that the Democrat Attorney Generals Reno and Holder were the worst in modern times.

Have the people forgotten about Janet Reno? Does Waco, Ruby Ridge and the firing of all 93 US attorneys ring a bell?

Many of my saved links have been removed from the internet. Government censoring perhaps because the links exposed the truth?

I found this link today about Janet Reno. Please point out any mistakes that the author made about Reno.

http://www.netowne.com/conspirac...
We the people, present these charges against Attorney General Janet Reno:
1. DERILICTION OF DUTY (Ruby Ridge, Idaho - 1992)
2. FAILURE TO UPHOLD THE 4TH AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION (Waco, Texas - 1993)
3. ABUSE OF POWER (Firing of all U.S. Attorneys - 1993)
4. WILLFUL NEGLIGENCE (Fiske Appointment - 1993)
5. OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE (Arkansas U.S. Attorney - 1993-present)
6. SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE (Tyson / Espy Investigation - 1994)
7. IMPEDING AN INVESTIGATION (Judicial Watch vs. Commerce Dept. 1993-Present)
8. GROSS FBI MISMANAGEMENT (William Sessions replacement with Louis Freeh - 1993)
9. AIDING & ABETTING ORGANIZED CRIME (Laborers International Union of North America - 1996)
10. TREASON (Campaign Fund Raising - 1996)
11. VOTER FRAUD (INS Illegal Immigration - 1996)
12. INCOMPETENCE (Bill Clinton sexual harassment suit - 1997)
13. TAMPERING (Hillary Clinton privilege claim - 1997)
14. CONSPIRACY (Immunity refusal for Buddist nuns - 1997

The Big Dog's back

1 thru 14 are wrong.

Webster

Right on 14 for 14....

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Sam, couldn't the article also be titled:

"AG Holder believes without shadow of doubt 26 million Americans are guilty of intrinsic racism"?

"AG Holder - 'Texas on decade-long time-out since entire state can't control its rampant racism', hopes example made to brothers/sisters will keep them in line 'but probably not, I know these kids' AG adds"

SamAdams

Sure, maybe. I can believe that Holder believes that. At the same time, preventing voter fraud (including votes by illegal aliens) isn't remotely racist. In other words, could some elections officials be racist? Yes. Some people in EVERY group are racist! But how does racism apply HERE? EVERY person has to present ID to ensure there aren't multiple votes and that those who ARE voting are legal citizens.

In Holder's mind, the problem is that anybody who WANTS to vote should be able to do so, and do it often. Racism is, in this instance (and in too many instances where Holder's concerned) a convenient and politically correct excuse.

You don't know me. If I came into your store and purchased merchandise and wanted to write a check, would you just accept whatever I handed to you and call it good? I doubt it! And believe me, I wouldn't think you're sexist or racist for checking further. You're trying to run an honest business, and you need to ensure that people are being honest with you as well. There's no difference here.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Your example with the check is correct. I would provide an explanation with it as I feel it would be proper even if you personally don't feel you need one. It is both professional and takes any other possibilities (such as sexism, I suppose) off the table.

Webster

Continued race baiting by this administration, another example that racists come in all colors.

deertracker

Give it a rest PLEASE?????????????????????????????????????

Webster

I can't give it a rest, unlike Obama supporters I WORK.

ski

What a biased headline! It should read " Feds butt into states' rights, again."

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