Justice Department targets Texas Voter ID again

A new challenge argues that the law will have the result of "denying or abridging" voting rights for minorities

By Jillian Rayfield

Published August 22, 2013 6:01PM (EDT)

The Department of Justice announced that it is challenging Texas' Voter ID law on the grounds that it violates the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments, because it was enacted "with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group."

The DOJ also announced that it will intervene in Perez v. Perry, an ongoing challenge to the state's redistricting maps, which were drawn in 2011. The maps "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 in violation of Section 2, as well as the voting guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution," the DOJ wrote in a statement.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which required certain states to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. Though the Supreme Court did not consider the constitutionality of the pre-clearance requirement in itself, it effectively gutted it by striking down the part of the VRA that determined which parts of the country were subject to this pre-clearance.

"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," Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a statement. "The Department will take action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs."

The Justice Department is also asking a court to require Texas to "bail-in" to Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, "to remedy persistent, intentional discrimination in voting within the State of Texas."

The "bail-in" provision of the VRA allows courts to enforce a pre-clearance requirement for a set time period in a state or region that was recently found to have discriminated against minorities at the polls. Last year, in Texas v. Holdera three-judge panel in Washington found that the state’s redistricting maps were racially discriminatory, making Texas a prime target for "bail-in" duty.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Department Of Justice Eric Holder Redistricting Rick Perry Texas Voter Id