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DOJ Seeks to Stop Texas Voter ID, Redistricting Maps

The United States Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will again seek to dismantle Texas’ voter ID law, this time with a lawsuit alleging the measure violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The department also said on Thursday that it will seek to have Texas redistricting maps declared unconstitutional.


The United States Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will again seek to dismantle Texas’ voter ID law, this time with a lawsuit alleging the measure violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The department also said on Thursday that it will seek to have Texas redistricting maps declared unconstitutional.

Section 2 of the 1965 act prohibits voting laws that discriminate based on race, color or membership in a minority group. Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Department of Justice comes after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that allowed implementation of the state law that requires voters to furnish a valid photo ID before casting a ballot. Prior to that ruling, the department and, separately, a three-judge panel of federal judges in Washington, had struck down the 2011 state law after denying Texas’ request for preclearance. The high court’s ruling eliminated the preclearance requirement.

“Today’s action marks another step forward in the Justice Department’s continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement about the voter ID provision. “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights.”

The DOJ also said that it will seek “declaration that Texas’s 2011 redistricting plans for the U.S. Congress and the Texas State House of Representatives were adopted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.”  That too, is in violation of Section 2 and the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the department alleges.

The department said it would file suit against the State of Texas, the Texas Secretary of State and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Texas DPS is the agency charged with issuing state-issued IDs or driver’s licenses.

The secretary of state’s office has not received a copy of the lawsuit and will review it when it is received, said Alicia Pierce, the agency’s spokeswoman.

The Texas DPS or attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, did not hesitate however, in his rebuke of the DOJ's latest actions. 

“Facts mean little to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame-duck Administration trying to turn our state blue,” Cornyn, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and a former Texas attorney general, said in a statement. “As Texans we reject the notion that the federal government knows what’s best for us. We deserve the freedom to make our own laws and we deserve not to be insulted by a Justice Department committed to scoring cheap political points.”

In its statement, the U.S. DOJ added that it would ask the court to subject the state to new preclearance requirements under Section 3 of the act.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/22/doj-seeks-stop-states-voter-id-redistricting-maps/.

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