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U.S. Attorney General Takes Texas To Task Over Voting Rights

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Speaking before the National Urban League, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took Texas to task.

He announced that he's asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state to get federal approval or "pre-clearance" before it makes any changes to its voting laws.

Holder said, "Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented just last year in the re-districting case Texas vs Holder as well as the history of pervasive voting related discrimination against racial minorities."

The move comes about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, requiring states with a history of discrimination to get pre-clearance before changing election laws.

The Supreme Court let stand what's called a "bail-in" provision, still allowing federal court oversight of Texas.

While Democrats praise the news, Republicans, such as Texas Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, criticize it as partisan politics.  Abbott says, "I believe the Obama administration is joining with the Democratic Party in the State of Texas in a lawsuit aimed at the 2014 elections, rather than trying to protect the rights of minorities."

UT Arlington political science professor Allan Saxe says politics may be at work here - and that the 2014 elections are critical to both President Obama and the Republicans. "If the Republicans can keep control of the House and maybe even gain control of the Senate, it could be a whole different world for the last two years of the President's administration.  On the other hand, if the Democrats regain control of the House, and keep the Senate, that will give President Obama a better two years."

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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