Supreme Court nixes Texas voting rulings

WASHINGTON Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:14am EDT

News microphones wait to capture reactions from U.S. Supreme Court rulings outside the court building in Washington, June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

News microphones wait to capture reactions from U.S. Supreme Court rulings outside the court building in Washington, June 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Thursday sent two cases concerning voting laws in Texas back to lower courts for reconsideration in light of a major ruling this week that knocked out a key section of the 48-year-old Voting Rights Act that fought discrimination at the polls.

The cases concern proposals on redistricting and voter identification that had been rejected by federal judges under a provision of the law that the Supreme Court ruling effectively nullified.

In Tuesday's ruling, the court struck down a section of the landmark 1965 law that sets the formula under which certain states have to ask the federal government or a judge for approval before making changes to their voting procedures.

The decision neutralized the so-called "preclearance" provision which required Texas and eight other states to submit proposed changes for approval.

The decision indicates that Texas will no longer have to undertake that process, at least until the U.S. Congress comes up with a new formula for areas covered by the law meant to protect blacks and other minorities in places where discrimination persists.

The voter identification law, passed in Texas in 2011, requires all voters to present identification when they vote in person. A federal judge said the law would impose a disproportionate burden on lower income people, many of whom are minorities.

The redistricting plan, approved after the 2010 census, was rejected by a federal court in part because there were not enough districts in which minorities were a majority.

Texas had sought Supreme Court review on both issues. The cases were put on hold while the court decided the challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers representing minority voters had pointed out to the court that the 2011 redistricting plan could now be viewed as moot as the Texas legislature has passed a new plan that meets the requirements set by the lower court.

The redistricting case is Texas v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-496 and the voter identification case is Texas v. Holder, U.S. Supreme Court, 12-1028.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and Vicki Allen)

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Comments (8)
speaker12 wrote:
Something is going wrong, badly wrong, with the actions of the Court. Yesterday they upheld the decision of a California court which overturned the vote of the people regarding marriage. Now, this really has little to do with gay marriage in comparison to the fact that when the people vote for something and the courts overturn the vote, something is wrong. In a democracy the vote of the people is the deciding factor regarding what is to be. Then some judges, who are appointed by elected officials, rule that the voice of the people does’t count. Soon the IRS, NSA and other government agencies are making the laws of our Nation. Something is wrong here.

Jun 27, 2013 10:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
metalnick wrote:
@speaker12 Are you kidding me? Just because “the People” decide something doesn’t make it right. This country is a Republic, not a strict Democracy, and as such has a duty to protect the citizens from the tyranny of the majority. The SCOTUS gets things wrong but they also get a lot right and the ruling on DOMA and Prop 8 were spot on.

Jun 27, 2013 10:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sorry, Speaker12, but you don’t live in a Democracy, the United States is a Republic. In a Democracy, the Majority does rule and can impose its will on the Minority. Not so in a Republic, where majority rule is feared and the rights of the individual protected. If we lived in a Democracy, we’d already have gun control, full equality for gays and lesbians, and nationalized health care since the majority of Americans desire these things. But a minority of wealthy, right-wing conservative people have been able to hold these things hostage as seen in the paralysis in Congress. What we really need is a parliamentary form of government, similar to the United Kingdom and many of the Commonwealth countries. The American form of government is broken beyond repair, and the United States has fractured into groups or confederations of people who only want to be with other people who hold similar views, etc. The American Revolution has turned out to be a failure.

Jun 27, 2013 11:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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