On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will seek preclearance of voting laws from areas through federal courts in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Holder announced that the DOJ will ask a federal judge to require the state of Texas to submit changes to the Justice Department for preclearance for ten years as part of a pending lawsuit filed by Latino state lawmakers who believe a redistricting law is racially prejudiced. “Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination….as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized, we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder said.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which determines which districts have to submit changes in their voting practice and regulation regardless of size to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in accordance with Section 5 of the VRA, is unconstitutional. In doing so, the Court essentially nullified Section 5 requiring preclearance in voting regulation changes. However, the Court left intact a part of the law that allows a judge to require states and municipalities obtain preclearance for changes to voting laws.
Holder continued, “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the Court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to pre-clearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”
Media Resources: New York Times 7/25/2013; Politico 7/25/2013; Washington Post 7/25/2013 Feminist Newswire 6/25/2013