Efforts by the Obama administration to wring protections out of a weakened Voting Rights Act begin Monday in Texas over allegations that Republicans intentionally discriminated against minorities when drawing new election maps. A federal trial in San Antonio comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that Texas and 14 other states with a history of voting discrimination no longer need permission from Washington before changing the way elections are held. The Justice Department and minority rights groups now want a three-judge panel to decide that Texas still needs that approval under a historically obscure portion of the Voting Rights Act that has drawn new attention since the heart of the 1964 civil rights law was struck down.
Last year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to use “every tool at our disposal” to preserve voter safeguards after the Supreme Court decision. “This is a case that will make law,” said Michael Li, redistricting counsel at the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice. A decision by the San Antonio court isn’t expected for months.
The Justice Department has also joined voting-rights lawsuits in North Carolina, which last year enacted sweeping election-law changes, including a tough new voter ID mandate.
Full Article: Feds taking ‘prime role’ in Texas voting maps case – SFGate.