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The Obama DOJ Challenges Texas’ Voter Suppression and Redistricting Law


Texas was the first red state to celebrate the SCOTUS ruling striking down the preclearance formulate in the Voting Rights Act.  In Republican speak, that means the Feds can’t interfere with their “right” to suppress votes by people who know their best interests are not served by the Republican Party.

Perhaps they forgot that the Voting Rights Act has other sections to protect the rights of all Americans – not just the ones with fair skin and who vote Republican.  Attorney-General Eric Holder promised the Department of Justice would continue to protect the voting rights of all Americans.

The Department of Justice is making good on Attorney-General Eric Holder’s promise.  On Thursday, the DOJ announced it will challenge Texas’ voter ID law because the law violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the 14th and 15th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.  In a separate action, the DOJ also plans to challenge the state GOP’s redistricting plans.

According to a press release on the filings, the DOJ will ask for two things in the voter ID suit.  First, it wants the court to prevent Texas from enforcing the requirements of its Voter ID law.  Second, the DOJ wants the court to order “bail-in relief” under section 3 of the Voting Rights Act.  If the court grants this relief, it means Texas would be subject to a new preclearance requirement.

In the complaint challenging the state’s redistricting plans, the DOJ wants the court to declare that the intent of those plans was “with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group” which violates Section 2 of the VRA. Additionally, the DOJ wants a “bail in” under Section 3 (c) to “remedy persistent, intentional discrimination in voting within the State of Texas.

Senator John Cornyn reacted with all too typical GOP hyperbole and misinformation.

As Texans we reject the notion that the federal government knows what’s best for us … We deserve the freedom to make our own laws and we deserve not to be insulted by a Justice Department committed to scoring cheap political points.

This is comforting political talk to the GOP base who truly believe that Texas is within its rights to establisha sort of Apartheid – Lone Star style.  It is also full of hooey because while states do have the right to establish their own laws, those laws must still conform to the U.S. constitution.  There’s nothing “political” about the DOJ taking steps to protect the rights of all Americans, when states violate the constitution.  In fact, the DOJ would be negligent in its duties if it stood by and watched as Texas and other states establish laws with the intent and result of violating people’s civil rights. If Cornyn and other Republicans don’t want to be “insulted” by the DOJ, the solution is simple: stop trying to pass unconstitutional and racist laws.

Maybe Governor Rick Perry will “lead from behind” as Republicans like to say, by resurrecting the succession speech he uses to comfort Republicans who stomp their feet every time they have to re-learn that the U.S. Constitution contains many more protections than those found in the Second Amendment.

Texas thought that once the SCOTUS struck down the pre-clearance formula, they could get away with passing laws that courts already decided are unconstitutional.  Gregg Abbot waited a whole 20 minutes to tweet for joy of his intent to impose restrictions on votes by brown people and black people because because heaven forbid they vote for politicians who actually give a damn about something beyond racist clowns and oil.

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