The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

July 25, 2013

Justice Dept. to challenge states on voting rights

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Thursday it will open a new front in the battle for voter protections, a response to last month's Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to the Voting Rights Act.

In a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia, Attorney General Holder said that as its first move, the Justice Department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting in place future political redistricting or other voting changes.

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."

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the law that became a major turning point in black Americans' struggle for equal rights and political power.

The move in Texas is the department's first action to further safeguard voting rights following the Supreme Court June 25 decision, said Holder, "but it will not be our last."

"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 requirement to obtain advance approval from either the department or a federal court before changing voting laws is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional discrimination against voters is found. If the court in San Antonio sides with the Justice Department position, the preapproval requirement would apply for 10 years.

The section of the Voting Rights Act Holder invoked can be applied to all types of voting changes — from moving the location of a polling place to imposing stringent requirements such as photo identification at the polls.

On Wednesday, the Republican-dominated North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval to sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week.

In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing what's known as a statement of interest in support of the private groups that have filed suit.

Holder said that based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case in Texas, "we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices."

In Texas, there is a history of "pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities," Holder added.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio has been looking at Texas voting maps 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 wreaked havoc on 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 believe the maps are biased and underrepresent minorities. Aides to Perry did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Following Holder's speech Thursday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted, "I'll fight Obama's effort to control our elections & I'll fight against cheating at the ballot box." Abbott, a Republican, is running for governor.

The case in San Antonio deals with state and congressional redistricting.

Last year, a federal court Washington, D.C., found that Texas lawmakers 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.

Based on those findings, though, minority groups in San Antonio asked that three-judge panel last month to adopt the findings of the D.C. court and require Texas to submit all proposed changes to voting laws for prior court review. Holder's announcement bolsters the argument by the minority groups by placing Justice Department firmly on their 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 is at least 40 years old. The extraordinary intrusion on state power to conduct elections could only be justified 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," he said.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • FEA - HB0121 - flu - 05 Second wave of milder flu hitting Northeast

    Months ago, the flu season seemed to be winding down. But health officials on Friday reported widespread flu-like illnesses in six states.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0525 - marijuana - JM -pic (4).jpg Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Ferry captain arrested in South Korea disaster

    A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton visit.jpg Documents: Clinton sought GOP support for health care

    Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton's White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Student struggles to recount fatal truck-bus crash

    Most of the 911 calls from witnesses to last week's fiery truck-bus collision that killed 10 were matter of fact. Then there was the one from a passenger: With shrieks in the background, the student struggled to recount how a truck came roaring toward them.

    April 18, 2014

  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

     A powerful, magnitude-7.5 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Doomed ferry's sharp turn, slow evacuation probed

    The investigation into South Korea's ferry disaster focused on the sharp turn it took just before it began listing and on the possibility that a quicker evacuation order by the captain could have saved lives, officials said Friday, as rescuers struggled to find some 270 people still missing and feared dead.

    April 18, 2014

  • Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_horselesscarriage.jpg Proposed car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

    An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, as critics expressed their distaste for the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_southwest.jpg Flight lands safely in Indiana after threat

    An Indianapolis airport spokesman said a Southwest Airlines flight safely made an emergency landing after the airline received some kind of threat.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

What do you think of Anderson's decision to have an Independence Day parade and other festivities on July 3?

That's great!
Should be OK
What a waste of money!
     View Results