I am interviewed on Houston Public Radio about DOJ Voting Rights Act Suit Against Texas

August 23rd, 2013

I was on yesterday’s evening broadcast, and again this morning. The transcript and audio is here. Long and short of it, with Section 4 out the window, DOJ is using Texas as a test case for Section 2 (intentional discrimination) and Section 3 (“bail-in”). If both of these attempts fail, the VRA will not have much teeth. Instead, they may have to get creative, and turn to the 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, and maybe even the elections clause.

The Justice Department says it’s suing Texas to block the state’s new voter ID law and will also try to stop the state’s attempt to draw new voting maps.

The move comes after the Supreme Court earlier this summer threw out Section Five of the Voting Rights Act that was put in place back in 1965. Now, the Justice Department is focusing on two other sections of the Voting Rights Act. Josh Blackman is an assistant professor at the South Texas College of Law.

“The Justice Department has had to get creative. The Supreme Court took away their big axe. Their big axe was Section 5 and that’s what they used to protect voters. That’s gone, so they have to go turn to the other sections, Sections 2 and 3. If both of these fail, the Voting Rights Act will not have much validity.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act deals with intentional discrimination against minority voters. Section 3 requires pre-clearance for voting changes in states that have a history of discrimination. Blackman says the issue could affect the upcoming primaries in Texas.

“In order to have a primary, you need to have maps, you need to have districts. You can’t have people voting without the district. So, it’s possible the primaries might be delayed or it’s possible Texas will take an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to resolve it before the election.”

Blackman says this is clearly a test case that could affect other states dealing with similar voting questions. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in a written statement, says voter ID’s have nothing to do with race and are free to anyone who needs them.