Sensenbrenner: DOJ Has Right to Challenge Texas Voting Laws

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 10:41 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said Thursday that the Department of Justice is perfectly within its rights to mount a challenge against Texas’ recent adoption of new voting laws, the Hill reports.

The former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said the Voting Rights Act gives the Justice Department permission to obtain a court order, which would prevent states from implementing new election procedures until receiving federal approval.

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he will do just that in the case of Texas.

That announcement raised the ire of Texas Republicans, who claim the Justice Department is running roughshod over states' rights and deliberately turning its back on June’s Supreme Court decision to eliminate a central part of the Voting Rights Act.

Sensenbrenner, who in 2006 headed up the last reauthorization of the VRA, believes those who have criticized Holder’s announcement should brush up on their knowledge of his law.

“The department’s actions are consistent with the Voting Rights Act,” Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner pointed out that although the Supreme Court removed the law's Section 4 coverage formula, it left Section 2, which allows legal action against voting precincts in cases of alleged racial discrimination, untouched.

Sensenbrenner said that by doing away with Section 4 and leaving all other provisions as is, the court has set the stage for a rise in legal challenges to state and local voting laws.

“Increased litigation will be one of the major consequences of the court’s decision as courts will have to litigate more allegations of voter discrimination under Section 2 and whether jurisdictions should be 'bailed-in' to pre-clearance coverage,” Sensenbrenner said.

Texas Republicans were not the only GOP members who disagreed with Sensenbrenner.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) told Newsmax Thursday that Holder’s upcoming move illustrates the Obama administration’s disregard for the Supreme Court’s decision.

Hatch also claimed if he were a resident of the Lone Star State, he’d be at the end of his rope right about now.

"If I were a Texan, I'd be so doggone livid that I don't think I'd ever get over it,” Hatch said.

“That’s not the thing to do, and it just shows how this administration ignores the law.”

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