Three months after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out federal oversight of Texas elections under the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Justice Department today said it will sue Texas under other portions of the act which were not thrown out to have the state's Voter I.D. law declared illegal, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"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," Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott instituted the Voter ID law the day after the court ruled in June that Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the section requiring 'pre clearance' of voting changes in eight states with histories of suppressing voting rights of minorities, could no longer be enforced as written.
"We are determined to use all available authorities, including remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act, to guard against discrimination and, where appropriate, to ask federal courts to require preclearance of new voting changes," Holder said.
Luis Vera, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens, praised the Justice Department ruling.
"The State of Texas is the most restrictive of all the states which have implemented a Voter I.D.," Vera said. "It is not just restrictive on the Latino and Black community, it is more restrictive on the elderly and the handicapped.
"There are some places where, to get the type of i.d. that the state requires, people have to drive 180 miles to get it."
He said people who live in urban areas also suffer 'undue hardship' to get a voter i.d. because there are few stations in cities like Houston which provide the free i.d. card offered by the state.
"This Voter ID law will have the result of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group," Holder said.
The lawsuit also seeks to have a federal judge declare that Texas again needs to have its voting changes pre-cleared by the Justice Department.
In addition, the Justice Department says it will again seek to have the Congressional and Texas House districts drawn by the Republican majority in the Legislature in 2011 throw out as discriminatory.
"These districts were adopted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group," said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General.
A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the Republican candidate for governor would have no comment on today's action.