Did Greg Abbott “save” the Voting Rights Act?
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The Web site “The Texas Lawbook” asks the intriguing question posed by the headline. If Abbott did save it, he didn’t mean to, that’s for sure. From the Web site:
The Texas Attorney General claims in court that the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 is outdated, unnecessary and an unconstitutional encroachment on the sovereignty of the state, but his legal efforts may have just assured the law’s survival. Election law experts say that the VRA rose from near death – or at least irrelevance – last week when a federal court ruled that Texas legislators committed intentional racial discrimination when they drew new voting districts in 2011.
“It is amazing that Texas officials intended to kill the Voting Rights Act, but because of the evidence of intentional discrimination, they may have just resurrected it,” says University of Michigan law professor Ellen Katz, a nationally recognized election law expert.
By losing a case in which his client, the Texas Legislature, was found to have committed intentional racial discrimination, Abbott may have pumped new life into the Voting Rights Act, albeit by accident. The finding by a Washington, D.C. three-judge court that intentional racial discrimination is still practiced by a state subject to the Voting Rights Act may ultimately cause the U.S. Supreme Court to think twice before eviscerating the protections in the Act. The evidence of intentional discrimination involving the state’s House of Representatives map was extremely strong.