The Justice Department on Thursday redoubled its efforts to challenge state voting laws, suing Texas over its new voter ID measure as part of a growing political showdown over electoral rights. The move marked the latest bid by the Obama administration to counter a Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the voting rights of minorities. It also signaled that the administration will probably take legal action in voting rights cases in other states, including North Carolina, where the governor signed a voter ID law this month. The Supreme Court in June invalidated a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that had forced certain jurisdictions to receive approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their voting laws. The ruling, however, did not preclude the Obama administration from using other sections of the law.
On Thursday, the Justice Department said it will rely on another section of the act to contend that the Texas voter ID measure was “adopted 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 Texas law sets strict requirements for the types of government-issued photo ID that must be presented at polling places. Texas argues that the requirements are intended to curb voter fraud. The suit filed by Justice says the state “knew or should have known that Hispanic and African-American Texans disproportionately lack the forms of photo ID required” by the law.
“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 H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement. . . . This represents the department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last.”