Despite the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that Texas was no longer required to get preclearance from the federal government before making any changes to its voting laws, the Obama administration is suing the state to stop its new voter identification laws.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, claiming that the Texas law denies equal access to racial or ethnic minorities.
Texas and several other states, mainly in the South, had been bound by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to get approval from the federal government before it changed its voting laws. A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the preclearance provision of the act.
Since then, Texas has toughened its voting laws and now requires voter to show a government issued photo ID before voting. Texas, and 19 other states that have voter ID requirements, say the laws stop potential voter fraud.
But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says this is the Justice Department's "latest action to protect voting rights."
"We will not allow the Supreme Court's recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday. "We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement. ... This represents the department's latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last."
Texas AG Greg Abbott, however, said the federal government is ignoring the Tenth Amendment.
“Just two months ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal preapproval of state election laws,” Abbott said in a statement. “The Court emphasized that the Tenth Amendment empowers states -- not the federal government -- to regulate elections. The Obama administration continues to ignore the Tenth Amendment and repeated Supreme Court decisions upholding states' authority to enforce voter identification and redistricting laws.”
Abbott also said that voter IDs “have nothing to do with race,” and they are free to anyone who needs one.
"Eric Holder's outrageous claim that voter ID is a racist plot to disenfranchise minority voters is gutter politics and is offensive to the overwhelming majority of Texans of all races who support this ballot integrity measure," Abbott said.
According to an article in USA Today, the NAACP and Texas’ Mexican American Legislative Caucus support the move by the DOJ.
"Texas has a deeply disturbing history of brazenly suppressing the votes and voting strength of black and Latino voters," said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the lawsuit against the state is part of the “endless litigation” by Holder in an effort to “obstruct the will of the people of Texas.”
“We will continue to defend the integrity of our elections against this administration's blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment,” Perry said in a statement.