The Department of Justice filed suit against the state of Texas Thursday for discriminating against minority voters when it passed a voter identification law.
The law, approved in 2011, requires voters to present state-issued photo identification to vote. Federal courts had ruled that Texas did not provide sufficient evidence that the law was not discriminatory. However, after the Supreme Court struck down the formula used to determine which municipalities must submit to preclearance and therefore nullified Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the court decision was undone.
The law requires a Texas driver’s license, personal ID card, or election identification certificate (EIC). However, many counties in Texas don’t have their own driver’s license office “[requiring] some voters to travel approximately 200 miles round trip in order to obtain an EIC” according the suit.
“We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
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, was unconstitutional. In doing so, the Court essentially nullified Section 5 requiring preclearance in voting regulation changes. Section 5 has been used to stop over 700 discriminatory laws from going into effect between 1982 and 2006.