Drawing the Battle Lines: Federal Court Permits Department of Justice to Intervene in Texas Voting Case


By: Peter Munk
As discussed here, the Department of Justice has signaled an effort to use Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act to “bail-in” jurisdictions that previously required “preclearance” pursuant to the VRA’s now-defunct Section 4. This week, a three judge panel in the Western District of Texas allowed the government to intervene in an ongoing Texas lawsuit over redistricting, thus teeing up a legal fight over the meaning and application of Sec. 3(c). The order is here. The district court recognized that “after Shelby County, circumstances changed significantly, since Sec. 3(c) became an issue for the first time,” and that “the proper construction and application of Sec. 3(c) are unsettled and highly disputed.”
The meaning of the previously-untested Sec. 3(c) is shaping up to be the next major fight in the voting rights arena.