DOJ - attempting to turn Texas blue?
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Earlier this month, the United States Department of Justice - in the embodiment of United States Attorney General Eric Holder - brought two actions against the State of Texas in federal court.
The DOJ sued Texas to block the state's new voter ID law, and it intervened in a redistricting lawsuit claiming that the state's new maps discriminate against minorities.
In the voter ID lawsuit, the DOJ complaint contends that SB 14 will result "in denying or abridging the right to vote with regard to race, color or membership in a language minority group." The complaint asks the court to prohibit Texas from enforcing the law.
Additionally the DOJ filed a separate motion to intervene against the State of Texas and the Texas Secretary of State in the ongoing case of Perez v. Perry, regarding the state's redistricting laws. Essentially, the DOJ seeks a declaration that Texas's 2011 redistricting plans for the US Congress and the Texas State House of Representatives were also adopted "to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group." According to Holder, this violates voting guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
"This action marks another step forward in the Justice Department's continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans," Holder said. "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."
On June 25, a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) enabled new voting requirements passed by the 2011 Texas Legislature to take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in Texas elections. By a 5-4 decision in the case Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Holder's most recent lawsuits against the Lone Star State did not sit well with Lone Star pols US Rep. Lamar Smith, Senator John Cornyn or Gov. Rick Perry.
"The Justice Department is supposed to be free from partisan influence and focused on fairly enforcing federal law. But under this administration, the Justice Department has become more partisan than ever," Smith wrote in a prepared statement. He equated the lawsuit as an attempt by President Barack Obama to reassert political power over the state.
According to Smith, voter fraud undermines the credibility of elections and threatens democracy, and Texas has a right to pass and implement laws that protect the integrity of its elections.
Smith continued, "The Texas elections laws that the administration is attacking are fair and reasonable. It is not discriminatory to require individuals to show a valid ID in order to vote - it is good government. Other states have similar laws that have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Why should Texas be any different?"
Equally as blistering in his assessment of Holder's actions, Cornyn said, "Facts mean little to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame-duck administration trying to turn our state blue. As Texans we reject the notion that the federal government knows what's best for us. We deserve the freedom to make our own laws and we deserve not to be insulted by a Justice Department committed to scoring cheap political points."
On August 22, Perry noted, "The filing of endless litigation in an effort to obstruct the will of the people of Texas is what we have come to expect from Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama. We will continue to defend the integrity of our elections against this administration's blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment."