Two weeks ago, the Justice Department refused to “preclear” South Carolina’s new voter ID law, ruling that it would discriminate against minorities and therefore violated the Voting Rights Act.
Texas, another state covered under the Voting Rights Act, could soon meet the same fate if it is unable to provide sufficient evidence that its law does not also discriminate against minorities. The Justice Department is currently reviewing Texas’ move and has requested the state for more information about the law’s effect on minorities. Once that information is received, the DOJ will rule within 60 days.
ThinkProgress spoke with Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), a key proponent of the new law, about the upcoming ruling earlier this week. Dewhurst, who is running for his state’s open Senate seat this year, warned that if the Justice Department rules that Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act, such a move would be “unconstitutional.”
KEYES: Do you worry that that same fate (regarding the Justice Department ruling against South Carolina’s voter ID law) is going to happen to Texas as well?
DEWHURST: In Texas we passed what I believe to be a very good and constitutional bill that requires some photo identification to vote. That is a simple procedure for protecting the integrity of our voting system. It’s a principle in America: one person, one vote. For the Justice Department to interfere with that process would be wrong and I believe unconstitutional.
KEYES: You think it’d be unconstitutional if they ruled against the voter ID law in Texas?
DEWHURST: If the Justice Department were to come down on our Texas law, they would be wrong under the Constitution because I believe we’ve had our law looked at over and over again and I feel comfortable it is constitutional.
Listen to it:
Dewhurst’s view that enforcing the Voting Rights Act would be unconstitutional is unfortunately becoming more commonplace among modern conservative cognoscenti. Former senator and current Mitt Romney advisor Norm Coleman told ThinkProgress last year that we should “absolutely” consider gutting the Voting Rights Act, and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli argued that his state should be exempted because it has “outgrown” racism. Earlier this year, Arizona filed a lawsuit claiming that the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, and there is a very real risk that the Supreme Court’s conservatives will agree with them. If this view should prevail, a pillar of the civil rights movement that has successfully protected the rights of minorities for nearly 50 years could become a relic of history.