Biased Texas Voting Laws Challenged
It was with some relief that I read today that the Justice Dept is challenging the recent voting laws in Texas (and other states) that tried to limit the participation of minority voters and Democrats in general in elections. Those laws, as you will remember, have tried to cut down on the time period for registering to vote, eliminating early voting, and other such things that, for instance, create long lines of waiting voters (over 8 hours wait in some places) who just happen (?) to be largely minorities--and other such shenanigans. I was really beginning to fear that the Republicans were going to be successful in gerrymandering Republican candidates into office (including for President!) by drastically curtailing the minority vote.
The recent Supreme Court ruling that declared no states (which historically had a record of racial discrimination) had to submit their voting plans for review by the Justice Department certainly had me worried where we were heading.
I'm happy to report that the Justice Department may have found a way to restore some control over the wild and woolly Texans.
Here is a selection from today's Reuter's newsclip:
The U.S. Department of Justice will ask a federal court to reinstate its authority over Texas voting laws, part of a new Obama administration strategy to challenge state and local election laws it says discriminate by race, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.
"This is the Department's first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last," Holder said to a standing ovation at the annual conference of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization, which is meeting in Philadelphia.
The Texas action was expected to be the first in a nationwide roll-out of voting rights cases aimed at counteracting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that invalidated a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Obama administration has been searching for new ways to oppose voting discrimination since a 5-4 conservative majority on the high court ruled that a formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to extra federal scrutiny was outdated.
. . .
As a first step in its new strategy, the Justice Department plans to make clear it supports a pending lawsuit that racial minorities brought against the redistricting plan in federal court in Texas.
If the court agrees the plan was racially discriminatory, then the Justice Department will ask the court to place Texas back in the preclearance process for an undetermined period of time, according to Holder's prepared speech.
The Supreme Court in its June ruling left in place the preclearance process and most other parts of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating only the formula for states and localities to be subjected automatically to extra scrutiny.
Three cheers for Holder--and for the voting rights of the American public! Every once in a while, we do get some good news out of D.C.!