Will Texas’s Race Discrimination Come Back To Haunt It?
Posted in the Minneapolis Forum
#1 Jul 9, 2013
Texas is on the front lines of an important test case about whether a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act can be salvaged after the Supreme Court struck at the heart of the law.
The ruling in late June freed up the Lone Star State, and all other covered jurisdictions, to change their voting laws without federal pre-approval for the first time since the 1970s. But now civil rights advocates have filed a case urging a federal court to once again subject Texas to the preclearance requirement, invoking a lesser-known provision under the historic 1965 law and pointing to the fact that a federal court blocked the state’s 2011 redistricting map after concluding that it deliberately discriminated against minorities.
Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act lets courts add a state or local government to the preclearance requirement if it is found to have enacted intentionally discriminatory voting measures. The Supreme Court left that part of the Voting Rights Act intact; it invalidated Section 4, which includes the formula that Congress established to determine which state and local governments are to face that extra scrutiny automatically.
“Commonly called the bail-in mechanism or the pocket trigger, section 3 authorizes federal courts to place states and political subdivisions that have violated the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments under preclearance,” explained a 2010 article in the Yale Law Journal. Judges have discretion to decide which jurisdictions are covered and for what period of time.
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