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Texas Sued by Department of Justice Over Law Requiring Voter ID

By Ken Mandel   |   Friday, 23 Aug 2013 01:46 PM

The Department of Justice sued Texas over its newly implemented voter identification laws on Thursday, intensifying its challenge to the state and asking judges to strike down legislation the Obama administration sees as discriminatory.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said last month that the department would challenge Texas' legislative and congressional district boundaries, claiming the plan diminished the political clout of an increasing Latino population, according to The Washington Post.

The Department claims that Texas' ID law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

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The administration is also likely to sue other states, such as North Carolina, where Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a voter ID law this month.

"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," Holder said in a statement. "The department will take legal action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs."

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in June to eliminate Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, on the grounds that it was no longer justified. Before that ruling, Texas and 14 other Southern states with a history of voter discrimination had to petition the government before enacting any changes to election laws.

Now, those states can do what they please without federal approval. Just hours after that decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the redistricting maps and voter ID law, which had passed in 2011, would immediately take effect.

Lawyers chastised a Texas law that requires a photo ID because it meant that in some counties, registered voters would need to travel hundreds of miles to get an authorized photo. The law also said a student's official university picture wasn't acceptable, but a permit for a handgun was allowed. A three-judge panel in Washington last year agreed that such a requirement would particularly hurt voters who are old, poor, or part of a racial minority.

Civil rights leaders were quick to applaud Holder.

"Texas has a deeply disturbing history of brazenly suppressing the votes and voting strength of black and Latino voters," Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told the Los Angeles Times.

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Related stories:

Texas AG: Politics Driving Obama's Beef With State's Voter ID Law

Texas Voter ID Law Blocked by U.S. Justice Department as Biased

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