The Obama administration looked to give more power to the federal government but it looks like the Trump administration would like to change that.
In legal filings this week made in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Department of Justice made clear that it opposes bringing Texas's electoral map-drawing back under the federal oversight of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act established numerous legal tools to protect the franchise for minority voters. Section 2 of the Act contains a cause of action through which private plaintiffs can prophylactically sue to enforce the statute's proscription of any voting jurisdiction implementing a "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure ... in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Section 5 of the Act additionally contains a federal preclearance mechanism by which certain jurisdictions separately specified in Section 4(b) are precluded from making any changes affecting voting without receiving the preapproval of the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holderinvalidated Congress's specific "coverage formula" contained in Section 4(b) of the Act, but left intact the Section 5 preclearance mechanism. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred separately to note that he would have found unconstitutional the entirety of the Section 5 preclearance edifice as well.
Last term, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Abbott v. Perez, a Texas-based case which upheld 10 of the 11 congressional and state House districts being challenged for alleged intentional discrimination against minority voters. That case was a major setback for Texas activist groups seeking to place the Republican-controlled state legislature's map-drawing under greater federal scrutiny.
And now, following Perez, the Department of Justice is officially taking the legal stance that the federal government does not support placing Texas back under any new congressionally prescribed Section 4(b) "coverage formula" vis-à-vis federal preclearance. The Texas Tribune reports...