Tag Archive: Voting Rights Act


POLITICO

Justice Department to challenge North Carolina voter ID law

Eric Holder is pictured. | AP Photo

The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates. | AP Photo

The Justice Department will file suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African Americans, according to a person familiar with the planned litigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit at 11 a.m. Monday at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. Attorneys from North Carolina.

The suit, set to be filed in Greensboro, N.C., will ask that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter ID law, the source said. However, the case will also go further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.

Until this year, 40 North Carolina counties were under such a requirement. However, in June, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the formula Congress used to subject parts or all of 15 states to preclearance in recent decades.

The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates, but did not disturb a rarely-used “bail in” provision in the law that allows judges to put states or localities under the preclearance requirement. Civil rights groups and the Justice Department have since seized on that provision to try to recreate part of the regime that existed prior to the Supreme Court decision.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the voter ID measure into law last last month.

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MSNBC

The battle for voting rights is just the beginning, says Holder


US Attorney General Eric Holder arrives to address the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference during a public policy forum on voting rights in Washington on September 20, 2013. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

This story has been updated and a correction appended. 

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Justice Department will continue its efforts to protect voting rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision which gutted the Voting Rights Act earlier this summer.

During remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus, Holder explained that the lawsuits filed to stop Texas’s discriminatory redistricting and voter ID laws are “just the beginning.”

“Thanks to the hard work of our Civil Rights Division, we are continuing to refine and re-focus current enforcement efforts across the country,” he said. “And while the suits we’ve filed in Texas mark the first voting rights enforcement actions the Justice Department has taken since the Supreme Court ruling, they will not be the last.”

So far, the Justice Department has filed lawsuits to block redistricting and voter ID laws in Texas, along with pushing to see the state returned to preclearance under a different provision of the Voting Rights Act that remains intact after the Supreme Court ruling.

Earlier this week, the NAACP and Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed a lawsuit joining the DOJ in its attempt to block the voter ID law.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called the Justice Department’s efforts a “scheme” to win Texas for Democrats.

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Southern States Are Moving to Tighten Voting Rules

 

Emboldened by the Supreme Court decision that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, a growing number of Republican-led states are moving aggressively to tighten voting rules. Lawsuits by the Obama administration and voting rights activists say those efforts disproportionately affect minorities.

At least five Southern states, no longer required to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures, are adopting strict voter identification laws or toughening existing requirements.

Texas officials are battling the U.S. Justice Department to put in place a voter ID law that a federal court has ruled was discriminatory. In North Carolina, the GOP-controlled Legislature scaled back early voting and ended a pre-registration program for high school students nearing voting age.

Nowhere is the debate more heated than in Florida, where the chaotic recount in the disputed 2000 presidential race took place.

Florida election officials are set to resume an effort to remove noncitizens from the state’s voting rolls. A purge last year ended in embarrassment after hundreds of American citizens, most of whom were black or Hispanic, were asked to prove their citizenship or risk losing their right to vote.

Republican leaders across the South say the new measures are needed to prevent voter fraud, even though such crimes are rare. Democrats and civil rights groups say the changes are political attacks aimed at minorities and students — voting groups that tend to lean toward Democrats — in states with legacies of poll taxes and literacy tests.

In North Carolina, for example, a state board of elections survey found that more than 600,000 registered voters did not have a state-issued ID, a requirement to vote under the state’s new law. Many of those voters are young, black, poor or elderly.

“We’re in the middle of the biggest wave of voter suppression since the Voting Rights Act was enacted,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of voter protection for the Advancement Project, a Washington-based civil rights group that has undertaken legal challenges in several states.

For five decades, states and localities with a history of discrimination had to submit all election laws, from new congressional district maps to precinct locations and voting hours, to federal lawyers for approval. That practice ended in June when the Supreme Court struck down the provision in the Voting Rights Act as outdated.

Voting rights groups said recent actions by Southern states highlight the need for Congress to retool the rejected sections of the landmark 1965 law that were credited with ensuring ballot access to millions of blacks, American Indians and other minorities.

The administration is using the remaining parts of the law to bring court cases.

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English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee

English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Hill

Texas GOP pans Holder move

By Mike Lillis and Bernie Becker 07/25/13 01:21 PM ET

The lawmakers say Thursday’s surprise move by Attorney General Eric Holder asking a court to require “pre-clearance” of new Texas laws steps on states’ rights, wastes taxpayer dollars and defies the Supreme Court’s June decision to scrap a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

“Once again it’s the federal government telling the states what they can and can’t do,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). “Even after some defeats on the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court, the administration still continues to thwart the will of the people of Texas.

“We’re ending up wasting the taxpayers’ money when the court has already telegraphed that the Voting Rights Act is constitutionally infirm,” he added.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) argued that Holder “is trying to skirt the Supreme Court law” and “single out Texas.”

“My belief is [the] Voting Rights Act and those laws ought to be applied equally across states, and not played for political games, which is exactly what I see happening here,” Brady said. “Eric Holder [is] just singling us out – just skipped through the alphabet and happened to land on Texas.”

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) also panned Holder’s move, saying it fits the pattern of an agency that Republicans have long-criticized as over-stepping its legal boundaries.

“It’s pretty much par for the course with this Department of Justice,” he said.

Speaking in Philadelphia Thursday, Holder announced that the DOJ will ask a court to require Texas to get federal approval before newly passed voting rules, including a voter ID requirement, take effect.

The Voting Rights Act stipulated that such pre-clearance occur in Texas, but June’s Supreme Court ruling scrapped the coverage formula, effectively eliminating the pre-clearance requirement.

Holder said Thursday that “evidence of intentional racial discrimination” in Texas – “as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized” – is indication that minority voters in the state need extra protections.

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KVUE

Associated Press

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Updated today at 11:07 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department is opening a new front in the battle for voter protections, a response to the Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to the Voting Rights Act.

In a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia, Holder said that as its first move, the department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting future political redistricting changes in place.

The attorney general called the Voting Rights Act “the cornerstone of modern civil rights law” and said that “we cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve.”

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, the law that became a major turning point in black Americans’ struggle for equal rights and political power.

The move in Texas is the Justice Department’s first action to further safeguard voting rights following the Supreme Court decision on June 25, said Holder, “but it will not be our last.”

“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 ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected,” Holder said.

The requirement to obtain advance approval from either the department or a federal court before changing voting laws is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional discrimination against voters is found. If the court in San Antonio sides with the Justice Department position, the preapproval requirement would apply for 10 years.

The section of the Voting Rights Act Holder invoked can be applied to all types of voting changes — from moving the location of a polling place to imposing stringent requirements such as photo identification at the polls.

On Wednesday, the Republican-dominated North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval to sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week.

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