mostlycloudy
Sunday August 30th, 2015 6:44PM

Justice Dept to challenge states on voting rights

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department is opening a new front in the battle for voter protections, a response to the Supreme Court ruling that he said dealt a major setback to the Voting Rights Act.

The requirement that was struck down by the Supreme Court applied to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It also covered certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan. Coverage had been triggered by past discrimination not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaska Natives and Hispanics.

In a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia Thursday morning, Holder said that as its first move, the department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting future political redistricting changes in place.

The attorney general called the Voting Rights Act "the cornerstone of modern civil rights law" and said that "we cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve."

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, the law that became a major turning point in black Americans' struggle for equal rights and political power.

The move in Texas is the Justice Department's first action to further safeguard voting rights following the Supreme Court decision on June 25, said Holder, "but it will not be our last."

"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 ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected," Holder said.

The requirement to obtain advance approval from either the department or a federal court before changing voting laws is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional discrimination against voters is found.

The section of the Voting Rights Act Holder invoked can be applied to all types of voting changes - from moving the location of a polling place to imposing stringent requirements such as photo identification at the polls.

In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing what's known as a statement of interest in support of the private groups that have filed suit.

Holder said that based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case in Texas, "we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices."

In Texas, there is a history of "pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities," Holder added.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio has been looking at Texas voting maps since 2011, when the court threw out boundaries drawn by a then-GOP supermajority in the statehouse.

An ensuing legal battle between the state and a coalition of minority rights groups wreaked havoc on the 2012 elections in Texas, delaying party primaries that ultimately used temporary maps drawn by the court.

Under the direction of GOP Gov. Rick Perry last month, the Legislature ratified those interim maps as permanent over the objection of Democrats, who still believe the maps are biased and underrepresent minorities.

Aides to Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Developmental disabilities group to hold public forum in Gainesville
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) will host a series of public forums between now and Sept. 30 in order to collect public input on its next strategic plan, including one in Gainesville.
By AccessWDUN staff
4:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
D.O.T announces improvements coming to Ga. 400
The Georgia Department of Transportation and Forsyth County announce they are developing a project to improve traffic flow on Highway 400 at McGinnis Ferry Road. In preparation for that effort, Forsyth County is hosting a public information open house from 5- 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 10. It will take place at Lanier Technical College s Conference Center on Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Cumming.
3:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Turner Field US flag at half-staff, players' families deal with grief after fan dies in fall
ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. flag flew at half-staff at Turner Field on Sunday, one day after a fan died following his fall from the upper deck into the lower-level stands during a game between the Atlanta...
1:57PM ( 4 hours ago )
Volunteers fill backpacks with meals for students in need
This week, employees of Wells Fargo Advisors Gainesville and Braselton branches came together to pack 225 backpacks with food for underprivileged families.
By Russell Brown
11:45AM ( 6 hours ago )
McDonald's has 200 part-time jobs available in Hall, Gwinnett counties
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) will help McDonald’s fill about 200 part-time jobs at restaurants in Hall and Gwinnett counties next week.
By AccessWDUN Staff
8:32AM ( 10 hours ago )