It's the Obama Administration vs. Texas...again. This time, the U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal court to re-impose part of the federal Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last month. That provision requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get "pre-clearance" from the federal government before changing voting laws or maps. The high court ruled that the "pre-clearance" standard applied to Texas and other Southern states relies on outdated data and needs to be re-written to reflect current times. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says another provision in the VRA allows the "pre-clearance" standard to be imposed if there is current evidence of discrimination, which he claims exists in the latest Texas voting maps. "We believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a pre-clearance process whenever it changes its voting laws," Holder said this week.
Texas leaders are outraged at Holder's action. "I think this is an abuse of the Voting Rights Act for partisan political purposes," says state Attorney General Greg Abbott. "I believe the Obama Administration is trying to put Texas elections under their thumb." U.S. Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) calls the move "just another pawn in the Administration's War on Texas." Governor Rick Perry says Holder's actions show "utter contempt for our country's system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution." U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) stated that "Texans should not - and will not - stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama Administration."
Still uncertain about this latest legal action is what impact it could have on the Texas election calendar in 2014. Legal challenges to the state's voting maps delayed primaries and affected several races in 2012, but Abbott says there is "no need to have any uncertainty" about next year's calendar because the state Legislature has already approved using the same voting maps that were used in last year's elections. Next year’s primaries in Texas are scheduled for March 4.