The Justice Department official noted that the current round of redistribution would be the first time in decades that some states, including Texas, have drawn new maps without prior permission from the department. A 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, invalidated the formula used by the government to subject states to this scrutiny.
Now, if any of these states draw a map that dilutes the power of minority voters, the Justice Department will have to prosecute after the fact to have the map rejected under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. . This part of the law prohibits discrimination against voters on the basis of race, color or membership of a linguistic minority.
A new voting rights bill to restore that preclearance was passed by the Democratic-controlled House last month in a party line vote, sending it to the much-divided Senate. The measure has the backing of President Joe Biden, who urged the Senate to pass it.
Moderate Senate Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III have spoken out in favor of the measure, but have balked at calls from some progressives to change the obstruction rules to pass it.
That would mean seeking the support of 10 Republicans to push forward any legislation, and only one, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, signed another voting rights bill. Most Republicans have argued that the measure is overbroad, unnecessary in modern times.