As Americans observed the 50th anniversary last week of the March on Washington, the Justice Department acted to make sure the dream of civil rights will not descend into a nightmare.
Attorney General Eric Holder said his department will file suit against an onerous new Texas voter identification law, which allows a person to vote with a gun permit but not a college ID. The Justice Department also become a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Texas redistricting plan that a federal court previously rejected. These steps were a bold reaction to a glaring affront.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a section of the Voting Rights Act that had required nine states with histories of civil rights abuses — mostly in the South — to get prior federal approval for changes in voting practices. Texas Republicans quickly went hog wild in their voter suppression efforts, confounding Chief Justice John Roberts’ legal rationale that “our country has changed.”
The Justice Department faces a tough legal battle, but one of the justices in the majority in June may realize that Texas and North Carolina have made the high court look foolish. The dream lives, but still there are those who use false claims of state sovereignty to subvert its hopes.