“In Texas, a Test of Whether the Voting Rights Act Still Has Teeth”

Must-read Manny Fernandez in the NYT on the voting rights case in Pasadena, Texas:

Within days of the Supreme Court striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act in June 2013, the mayor of this working-class industrial city set in motion a contentious change to the local election system that critics said was aimed at protecting white control of the City Council in the face of rapid growth in the city’s Hispanic population.

It set off a furor, which was only inflamed when at a subsequent redistricting hearing, the mayor, Johnny Isbell, brought a gun. At another meeting, he ordered police officers to remove a council member for violating a three-minute speaking limit.

Asked by SCOTUSblog why he was pursuing the change, Mr. Isbell replied, “Because the Justice Department can no longer tell us what to do.”

But just after the new year, a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to do precisely that — making Pasadena the first municipality in the country ordered by a court to submit, against its wishes, to federal approval of its electoral system since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision.

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