Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to force Texas to receive clearance from federal officials before making changes to the state’s voting laws, firing the Obama administration’s opening salvo against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act.
“Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination … 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,” Holder said in a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia.
Last month, the Supreme Court scrapped the provision of the voting law requiring states with a history of discrimination to receive approval from the Justice Department or a court before making changes to its voting rules. Liberals slammed the decision, contending that minority voters would face unreasonable barriers that would keep them from voting.
Holder on Thursday promised a a wave of new voting-rights challenges from the Justice Department, not just against the Texas law.
“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” he vowed.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas said it would move ahead with a new voter-ID law. And in North Carolina, a similar blueprint is in the works.
Democratic lawmakers are working on updates to the Voting Rights Act, essentially an attempt to undo the Supreme Court decision — but such a push faces an uphill battle in Congress.
President Obama has long argued against voter-ID laws, dismissing them as a thinly veiled way to keep minorities from voting. Supporters say they are essential to cracking down on voting fraud.