The U.S. Department of Justice and Texas have locked horns over discovery in a prominent voting rights challenge. Lawyers from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asked a panel of judges Wednesday to compel Texas to turn over legislative documents that “may shed light on the Texas Legislature’s motivation” for enacting the 2011 congressional redistricting plans. Specifically, the department’s lawyer say they’ve asked Texas to supplement its responses to similar document requests in other litigation in the state over alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This time, Texas said no, according to the Justice Department.
“There is no new reason that justifies defendants’ actions here,” the DOJ’s motion to compel states. “Defendants simply have reversed course and asserted that the Texas Legislature is a third party and that the United States may obtain certain legislative documents only through subpoenas to individual legislators.”
The Justice Department in August joined the ongoing case, known as Perez v. Perry in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, as part of the response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted a key provision of the voting rights law.