If somebody you know got stopped seven or eight times for driving drunk, would you think they had a problem? Texas lawmakers have now been popped by federal judges seven or eight times in recent years for intentionally discriminating against minority voters in with voter ID and redistricting legislation. Think they’ve got a problem? The federal government has a program for repeat offenders like Texas; it’s called “preclearance,” and it forces states with histories of official racial discrimination to get their new election and voting rights laws checked by the feds — either the Justice Department or the courts — before those laws can go into effect.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County vs. Holder decision in 2013, Texas was one of several jurisdictions required to pre-clear new political maps and laws with the feds. It made a big difference. With preclearance, the presumption is that something’s wrong and the state has to take care to make sure no one’s rights are violated. Without it, the presumption is that the state knows what it’s doing and ought to be trusted until and unless someone finds fault with the state’s plans.
The federal Voting Rights Act has a “bail-in” provision that allows the courts to order serial discriminators back onto the preclearance list.
They haven’t done that to Texas, yet. The state argues that the federal judges finding intentional discrimination are wrong and that everything will be sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court in due time.