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2013-08-01

Texas' state, national pols warn, 'Holder, don't mess with Texas'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In short order, Texas pols issued terse responses to reports that United States Attorney General Eric Holder plans to ask a federal court in Texas to require the state to get permission from the Justice Department before election rules and laws can be implemented. It has been purported that Holder made the decision to affect the outcome of the 2014 elections.

Tempers continue to flare when confronted with Holder's attempts to circumvent the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that struck down a major provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The reports hit the wires after Holder indicated on Thursday, July 25, he would again target Texas' voting laws in court. His intentions became known while Holder addressed the annual conference of the National Urban League.

Earlier this summer, SCOTUS declared the decades-old pre-clearance rule under the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional. The 5-4 decision opened the way for Texas and other states to require voter identification at polling places.

The Justice Department will apparently seek to reinstate the pre-clearance rule against Texas for another 10 years - and probably beyond.

"In June, the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional to hold Texas and several other states to a different standard in the Voting Rights Act. The Court found that the actions of the past could not be held against current and future generations," said Congressman Lamar Smith said. "The result of the decision is that Texas is no longer required to seek pre-clearance from the Justice Department before voting rights laws can be implemented.

"In other words, the Supreme Court message to the Justice Department was clear - don't mess with Texas. But Eric Holder and the Justice Department aren't listening. They have decided to continue their vendetta against Texas by asking a federal judge to reinstate the pre-clearance requirement."

According to Smith, Texas has the right to pass and implement laws that protect the integrity of its elections. As he pointed out, "Citizens are required to show a valid form of identification to open a bank account, drive a car or board a plane. In fact, the Justice Department's own policy requires visitors to show valid photo ID before being allowed to enter some buildings. It is not discriminatory for Texas to require individuals to show a valid ID in order to vote."

Smith's Lone Star colleague in the Senate concurred. In a prepared statement on July 25, Senator John Cornyn offered, "By first going around the voters and now the Supreme Court, Attorney General Holder and President Obama's intentions are readily transparent. This decision has nothing to do with protecting voting rights and everything to do with advancing a partisan political agenda."

Cornyn concluded, "Texans should not - and will not - stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama Administration."

In his statement decrying Holder's presumed action, Gov. Rick Perry said, "Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country's system of checks and balances - not to mention the US Constitution. This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state's commonsense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process."

Speaking about Holder's stated intention, Texas District 24 Senator Troy Fraser noted, "Exactly one month after the US Supreme Court ruled that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is not enforceable because of its reliance on outdated information, Eric Holder is continuing to use the Act for partisan political gains."

Citing "overwhelming public support for photo identification requirements," Fraser added that the Obama justice department blocked the implementation of Voter ID for two years. "Now, they are trying to use another section of the Voting Rights Act to keep up their assault on Texas."

Fraser added, "The federal Department of Justice continues to target our state. Texas elected officials - not some bureaucrats in Washington DC - should be in control of our election law and I expect the Office of the Attorney General to keep fighting for that right."

Stay tuned for more developments on Holder's controversial decision.