Editorials

editorial

Yes, mess with Texas

Advertisement

When it threw out an old formula under which certain states and local governments had to clear any changes to their voting procedures with the US Justice Department, the Supreme Court effectively gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Because this Congress is unlikely to pass a new formula for singling out areas with a tendency toward racial and ethnic discrimination at the polls, the so-called “preclearance” process seemed to be rendered moot. But the Voting Rights Act, which was signed 48 years ago yesterday, still allows the federal government to seek that power on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, and last month Attorney General Eric Holder wisely moved to do so in Texas.

The places that are most likely to adopt discriminatory voting rules in the future are the ones that have done so in the recent past. Holder’s suspicion of Texas is well-grounded. District lines redrawn in 2011 so diluted the clout of voters of color that a federal court blocked their implementation. Just last year, a federal appeals court struck down the state’s voter ID law on the grounds it would depress minority turnout.

The move was only the beginning, Holder indicated, of the Justice Department’s efforts to maintain some advance scrutiny of potentially discriminatory voting rules. Maintaining this power is important because after-the-fact challenges to voting laws can spend years in the courts — during which time people may be deprived of their rights. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to keep up with efforts by states, mostly in the South, that are rushing to enact more restrictive voting laws in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision. Still, Holder deserves credit for putting states on notice that their actions are being watched, and that this year’s Supreme Court decision doesn’t mean that states have free rein to discriminate.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com