North Carolina gave final approval to the measures only hours after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he will ask a federal court to tether Texas back to provisions that require permission to change voting laws.
Known as preclearance, the process had been mandatory in all or parts of 15 mostly Southern states with a history of discrimination, until the Supreme Court decision last month wiped out the preapproval.
Holder called the decision flawed and said Thursday he will use “every tool at our disposal” in mounting a new fight over voter protection.
He did not name other states in the sights of the Justice Department but vowed that Texas “will not be our last.”
Election law experts say Texas presents the easiest — but by no means assured — path for the administration because a Washington federal court last year found the state to have engaged in intentional discrimination. One example cited by judges was black congressional members in Texas having economic drivers such as sporting arenas freshly carved out of their districts, while “no such surgery” was performed on those belonging to white incumbents.
That finding makes it easier to apply Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, a tactic rarely employed because the same effect was formerly achieved through the more muscular section of the law that is now eliminated.