About a month back I posted some thoughts on the recent rulings of The Roberts Court. Partisans were turning themselves inside out left and right, I noted. One moment the court had vindicated gay marriage and the next it was gutting the the voting rights act. I argued that both the cheers and the lamentations were perhaps just a tad overstated. I feel somewhat vindicated this morning as I read of the news that Attorney General Holder has announced that the DoJ will challenge the state of Texas over control of it’s voting laws. Long history and recent actions would appear to indicate this as warranted. No sooner had the recent court decision come down than the Texas legislature moved forward on redistricting moves that had been previously blocked for their obvious gerrymandering intent.
The Roberts Court’s decision on The Voting Rights Act did not invalidate federal authority to protect minority rights. As I pointed out in my ealier post, it addressed the unequal status of the states singled out for particular requirements that do not apply to all. It’s heartening to see that the administration understands that distinction and they understand that they are to be no less vigilant in protecting voting rights. They understand the mandate as now broader not lesser.
Eric Holder announced… that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in San Antonio to reinstate its authority over voting laws in Texas for the next decade because of its history of discrimination, something that would require the Lone Star State to obtain approval before enacting any future voting changes.
“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder told a friendly crowd at the Urban League in Philadelphia. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary.”
Texas isn’t the only state that may have moved too quickly assuming political paralysis would provide an opportunity for, well… opportunism, where partisan manipulation left unchecked could extend to wholesale disadvantage and disenfranchisement of voting populations. Around the country social and partisan manipulation barely bothers with the sheep’s clothing of reform. I for one am glad to see the administration has taken action and I duly notice the mention of Congress in Attorney General Holder’s remarks. That brings the responsibility around to us —we elect Congress. It’s our understanding that really gives meaning and import to the court’s decision. In my sense of it anyway the court never said not to mess with Texas —as they mess with the most basic and meaningful right of citizenship. It said we should mess with the rest just as well, just as much, to vouchsafe voting rights in every corner of this country. I’m thinking the Obama administration heard it this way and I am glad of it.