Voting Rights Act
5:00 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Voting Rights Lawsuit Wants Texas Back Under Pre-Clearance

A lawsuit filed by several civil rights groups this week could result in continued federal oversight of Texas voting laws despite a Supreme Court ruling that section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.

Section 4 mandated that some states, including Texas, must get pre-clearance for any voting changes made by the legislature.

The suit was filed in a Washington D.C. court by the League of United Latin American citizens, the NAACP, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

When the Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance formula, it left intact the rest of the law, which is designed to protect minorities from voting discrimination.

During the Texas redistricting battle, the federal courts found the state was discriminatory when redrawing district lines.

"In this case they found the worst thing of all, that it is intentional discrimination. That the legislature knew what they were doing and did it anyway," said LULAC attorney Luis Vera.

Vera said it was that determination that could make Texas still susceptible to pre-clearance from the federal government under a different section of the voting rights act called the bail-in provision.

That provision is used for states, cities, counties, or other jurisdictions who implement questionable voting practices even if they were not covered under the now unconstitutional pre-clearance formula. 

If judges approve, voting law changes in Texas could continue to be subject to Department of Justice approval.