court's ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law's remaining
sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are
protected," Holder said.
This interpretation is likely to be challenged in court, said Temple University constitutional law expert Mark Rahdert.
The Supreme Court's decision left open how much authority the executive branch would have as part of its responsibility to "take care" that the law was executed, he said.
The question is whether that "take-care" responsibility authorizes the Justice Department to establish a new "preclearance mechanism" independently of Congress, Rahdert said.
The U.S. district court in San Antonio will have to answer that question. The Justice Department filed a "statement of interest" with the court Thursday afternoon detailing the federal government's position on the Texas redistricting case, Perez v. Perry.
Drawing on how a section of the Voting Rights Act has been used similarly in other states, the filing asks the court to reinstitute a preclearance requirement in Texas.
If preclearance is restored in Texas, the state will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, state Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a conference call Thursday. He said the Justice Department statement was primarily political and "sowing racial divide."
"They seem to be using the legal system as a sword to wage political attacks rather than as some sort of shield to reduce wrongdoing," he said.
Holder's announcement may also have implications for Texas' voter ID law, which is supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, who argue that such laws disenfranchise their constituencies.
Texas, within hours after the Supreme Court's June decision, reinstated its voter ID law, which was previously blocked by federal courts. Abbott said the federal involvement in that case illustrated that enough federal oversight already existed.
Mark Jones, chair of the political science department at Rice University in Houston, said he thought Holder's announcement was politically motivated and centered on the voter ID law rather than the redistricting map.
"From a purely practical perspective, trying to make the rules as pro-Democrat as possible is also in the best interest of the Democratic agenda," Jones said.
Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League, hailed the announcement, saying the plan "demonstrates Holder's resolve and the Justice Department's resolve to continue to enforce the Voting Rights Act with the full force of the law. That's good news. I think it's exciting news."
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) also welcomed the news.
"I think what the attorney general laid out in Philadelphia today sets the pace, that there will be an aggressive effort on the part of the federal government to protect people's right to vote," Fattah said, "not just in Texas but across the country."
Holder's decision is a "welcome development, but Congress still must act to devise and pass a new preclearance formula," said Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.). "We must work tirelessly towards breaking down barriers to the polls for eligible voters."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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