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Justice Department may take on N.C. over voting law changes

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will announce today that the Justice Department is renewing enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in an effort to blunt the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Washington Post is reporting.  That includes a possible DOJ lawsuit against North Carolina over the voting law changes pending in the General Assembly.

The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting rights issues and follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Justices threw out Section 5 of the landmark act, which protects minority voters by requiring certain states with a history of discrimination to be granted Justice Department or court approval before making voting law changes.

The DOJ attack will include efforts to “bail-in” jurisdictions having discriminatory voting laws, subjecting them to preclearance — as permitted under Section 3 of the Act.  The first test of that tactic will come in a pending Texas redistricting case — discussed in our story yesterday — where challengers have asked the court to consider their bail-in claim. The department will support that request and will likewise ask the judge there to require Texas to submit all voting law changes to the Justice Department for approval for a ten-year period because of its history of discrimination.

“It’s a pretty clear sign that a lawsuit against the Texas voter-ID law is also on the way,” Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, said in the Post. Miller said Justice may also sue North Carolina if that state passes a new voter ID law.

 

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