The Justice Department on Thursday redoubled its efforts to challenge state voting laws, suing Texas over its new voter ID measure as part of a growing political showdown over electoral rights.
The move marked the latest bid by the Obama administration to counter a Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the voting rights of minorities. It also signaled that the administration will probably take legal action in voting rights cases in other states, including North Carolina, where the governor signed a voter ID law this month.
The Supreme Court in June invalidated a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that had forced certain jurisdictions to receive approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their voting laws. The ruling, however, did not preclude the Obama administration from using other sections of the law. [...]
Experts noted that some of those approaches might not be effective. The provision the Justice Department is using to challenge the Texas voter ID law, for example, has traditionally been used for redistricting cases, according to Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University.
“Congress needs to act to update the Voting Rights Act” because existing legal tools are inadequate for these kinds of cases, said Overton, who served as principal deputy for legal policy in the Justice Department during Obama’s first term.