During his speech to the National Urban League today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced
that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This request to “bail in” the state – and require it to obtain “pre-approval” from either the Department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes – is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found. Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.Eric Holder Calls For Texas Voting Changes To Undergo Pre-Approval; Greg Abbott Vows To Fight It
The Burnt Orange Report provides a concise overview of the battle brewing between the Attorneys General:
Texas is pretty much the case study for why we still need a full and robust Voting Rights Act, from Republicans' intentionally discriminatory redistricting maps to their intentionally discriminatory photo voter ID schemes. [...]Castro hails feds for battling racial discrimination in Texas; Republicans respond with fury
US Attorney General Eric Holder is using the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act to fight this ongoing effort by the state of Texas to disenfranchise minority voters.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott -- now a candidate for Texas governor -- has vowed to fight Holder's effort to fight this intentional voter discrimination.
Today's Houston Chronicle quotes a range of Texas politicians' reactions to AG Holder's announcement:
The Justice Department’s action today to force Texas to abide by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act won applause from Democrats — but left Republicans who run the state and dominate the congressional delegation furious.Finally, Michael Li's Texas Redistricting blog has comprehensive coverage of the DOJ’s court filing on section 3, as well as a series of posts quoting Texas politicians' responses to this filing. He added the following less than an hour ago: DOJ says section 3 claims better addressed in San Antonio than DC.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, said Attorney General Eric Holder was correct to try to block Texas from unilaterally implementing its 2011 Voter ID law and its recently ratified congressional and legislative redistricting maps.
“Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature has put Texas in a place where we need oversight for clear attacks on voters’ rights,” said Castro. “We must continue to protect the basic right to choose our elected officials guaranteed by our American Constitution.” [...]
Texas Republicans had a very different point of view.
“Texans should not – and will not – stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama administration,” Sen. John Cornyn, a San Antonio Republican, said.
The New Queenmakers?
The San Antonio Current's 7-page cover story points out a key demographic that the Republicans have gone out of their way to anger during the special sessions and explains,
there is nothing fuzzy about the math. The Democrats can take Texas in 2016 if they can tap into one a key segment: white Texans, and in particular white women, the new kingmakers–or queenmakers–of Lone Star politics.After Filibuster, a Star Rises in Texas
In the toughest battleground states of 2012, women cast the decisive votes. Even though male voters in Ohio had backed Obama in 2008 with a narrow 51-48 percent margin, they swung red last year, voting 52 percent in favor of Romney. But Obama raised support among Buckeye women voters to 55 percent last year from 53 percent in 2008, and the crucial state ended up in his column. Floridian men also switched camps with a five-point jump in Republican voting to 52 percent. But again more women turned out for the Democrats, tipping those 29 electoral votes toward the incumbent. Floridian women outvoted men by 650,000 ballots; Florida was decided by fewer than 75,000 votes.
In Texas, white women favored McCain and Romney by wide margins, though not as lopsidedly as did men. White women, accounting for one-third of the total vote in 2008, voted McCain by a 72-28 margin, whereas their male counterparts favored the Republican slightly more, by 75-25. (Again, 2012 exit polls are not available for Texas.) Battleground Texas sees the disparity between national voting patterns and those in Texas as evidence of a dormant female Democratic vote here—one that might have just erupted this summer.
State Sen. Wendy Davis’ viral filibuster in June of a bill to impose draconian restrictions on abortion providers in Texas may have ultimately failed, but the attempt vaulted her into the limelight. In the process, the Lege’s abortion battles illuminated not only on the Ft. Worth lawmaker, but exposed cavalier treatment by the GOP supermajority of Davis, her female colleagues and women’s issues generally. Republicans passed their bill, but the blowback served as a feminist call to arms.
The rising star, of course, is state Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster of the Texas GOP's draconian anti-abortion bill made her an "overnight sensation," who
pumped life into the moribund Texas Democratic Party, recharged the state’s women’s movement, raised nearly $1 million in two weeks for her re-election campaign and, not least, was beseeched by supporters and some in her party to run for governor in 2014, which might be a quixotic quest in a state that has not elected a Democrat to that office in 20 years.
Now, while she thinks about all that, Ms. Davis is going to Washington. She will be the host of two fund-raisers on Thursday. One, a $500-a-head breakfast at Johnny’s Half Shell, a restaurant on Capitol Hill, will feature House and Senate Democrats including Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Barbara Boxer of California. Later, she will be the host of a happy-hour fund-raiser, at $25 to $250 a person, at Local 16 in the hip U Street neighborhood.
Texas Diary Round-Up
Jen Hayden: Two men arrested in gang rape of 13-year-old victim in Austin (7/18/13)
Egberto Willies: Rep. Laubenberg Bill No Different Than Weapon Used By A Murderer (7/20/13)
Beket: The Deadly Insanity of Abortion Politics in Rick Perry's Texas (7/21/13)
Laura Clawson: Texas Republicans double down with new anti-abortion bill (7/22/13)
rsmpdx: Austin 14-yr-old declines "whore" stigma (7/23/13)
clabouvier: Why Trayvon Martin's Murder is Personal - and Why We Need to Keep Talking About It (7/23/13)
Laura Clawson: Wendy Davis gets some good advice from Kirsten Gillibrand on Washington visit (7/25/13)