The U.S. Justice Department, deprived by the Supreme Court of the power to pre-emptively halt state voting laws it finds discriminatory, will seek a federal court ruling to force Texas to get approval before changing any voting laws. “We believe the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Attorney General Eric Holder Holder said in prepared remarks for the National Urban League Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a cornerstone of the Voting Rights Act when it ruled invalid a rule that certain states, including Texas, must get Justice Department approval before changing their election rules.
In the wake of that decision, which came after the law was challenged by Shelby County, Alabama, Holder has pledged to aggressively use the department’s other tools to block or halt any new state laws it views as discriminatory.
“This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder said. The department plans to “fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary.”
The Justice Department action comes less than a month after long-running fight over Texas congressional maps came to an end. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law the state’s interim election maps used in the 2012 elections shortly after the Supreme Court ruling.