President Barack Obama is bringing his administration's top civil rights attorneys to a White House meeting today about voting rights enforcement, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month gutting a key anti-discrimination provision.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who ran the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009 until his confirmation two weeks ago, will attend the meeting this afternoon with civil rights leaders and local elected officials.
The Roosevelt Room meeting, closed to the media, will be a discussion on "strengthening the Voting Rights Act and safeguarding every eligible American’s right to vote." White House officials declined to discuss details about the meeting, including naming the civil rights leaders and other officials who will attend the discussion.
Holder, who hails his protection of voting and civil rights as one of his proudest achievements at the helm of the Justice Department, announced last week the government will take on Texas in the first major voting rights enforcement action since the court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The Justice Department will try to convince a federal court in San Antonio to "bail in" Texas to the Voting Rights Act.
Texas almost immediately announced it will put voter and redistricting laws into effect in June, after a 5-4 Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. That effectively eliminated Section 5’s requirement that so-called covered jurisdictions—those with a history of voting discrimination—submit any changes on voting policies and practices to the Justice Department or the federal district court in Washington.
Some members of Congress have held hearings on the issue and are working to fix Section 4 or craft another legislative response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, but no specific bills have been proposed.