By Teresa Welsh |
Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Texas announced that it would move ahead with the implementation of a law passed in 2011 that requires voters to show photo identification in order to cast their ballot. "With today's decision, the state's voter ID law will take effect immediately," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
However, the Justice Department last month sued Texas over the voter ID law, claiming that it violates a portion of the Voting Rights Act untouched by the Supreme Court, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution. "Today's action marks another step forward in the Justice Department's continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "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."
Texas officials, not surprisingly, were unhappy with the DOJ's move. "The filing of endless litigation in an effort to obstruct the will of the people of Texas is what we have come to expect from Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama. We will continue to defend the integrity of our elections against this administration's blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment," said Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Abbot added: "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."
Proponents of the Texas law claim that it is necessary to combat voter fraud and ensure public confidence in elections, while opponents say that it is merely an attempt to disenfranchise minority voters, who are disproportionately likely to not have a photo ID.
In an interview with PBS Newshour, President Obama defended Holder's move. "If we can go ahead and move administratively so that our attorney general can go ahead in jurisdictions that seem to be intent on preventing people from voting and that have a racial element to it, even though largely it's probably for partisan reasons, then we need to go ahead and – and enforce the law," Obama said.
Is the Justice Department right to sue over Texas' voter ID law? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Natasha M. Korgaonkar Assistant Counsel of the Political Participation Group at the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund
Marc Veasey Democratic Representative from Texas
Trey Martinez Fischer Democratic Representative in the Texas State House