Attorney General Eric Holder Fights to Protect Voting Rights

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With Section 4 gutted, Holder is relying on Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act to uphold pre-clearance requirements. Under Section 3, if the Justice Department can prove that states or jurisdictions have committed constitutional offenses, federal courts may impose federal oversight rules.

“Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – 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 pre-clearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder said.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a black caucus member and former North Carolina judge, said he met with Holder earlier in the week and encouraged him to look at other provisions in the Voting Rights Act that would continue to make Section 5 enforceable.

“Wherever the attorney general can find flagrant violations of the Voting Rights Act…he needs to bring lawsuits,” Butterfield told reporters.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Rick Perry condemned Holder’s action, saying the attorney general showed “utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances.”
“This end round the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and cast unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our election process,” the governor said in a statement.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) simply called Holder’s move “nuts.”

“To say Texas is discriminatory is absolutely ridiculous,” Barton told reporters on Capitol Hill. “When the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 60s, it was necessary.

There was discrimination and I think the Voting Rights Act, for its time, was an acceptable remedy, or attempt to remedy, that discrimination. The Texas of today is not anywhere close to where the Texas of a long time ago may have been.”

(Photo: AP)

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