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Justice Department Still Wants Say in State's Voting Law Changes

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is going to scrutinize Texas first in an effort to go after states it feels are unfairly targeting minority voters through legislative action that includes congressional redistricting.

The strategy was announced Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder and comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Voting Rights Act.

In a 5-4 decision, the five conservative justices of the court ruled unconstitutional the coverage formula used by the government to determine which states are required to get federal permission before they make any changes to voting laws.  Most of the states are located in the South.

However, Holder suggested that the Justice Department would get around the high court's decision to have a judge examine Texas' laws through a process called preclearance that's in a section of the Voting Rights Act unaffected by the June ruling.

Last year, a lower court decided that the GOP-controlled Texas state legislature had drawn congressional districts that were unfair to Hispanic voters.  Republicans maintain the law is only intended to stop voter fraud, while Democrats claim it's simply a ruse since the instances of abuse have been minimal.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a fiery denunciation of the administration's latest action, saying, "This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state's common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process."

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