Home  >  Texas  >  DOJ demands federal control of Texas election

DOJ demands federal control of Texas election

By   /   July 11, 2013  /   News  /   24 Comments

Somebody needs to get Attorney General Eric Holder a copy of the Shelby County ruling.

Somebody needs to get Attorney General Eric Holder a copy of the Shelby County ruling.

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

HOUSTON – Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to the “pre-clearance” requirements of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice is back in court trying to assert federal control over a Texas election.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez on Wednesday asked a three-judge federal court in Washington, D.C., to set the terms and date of an election for trustees of the Beaumont Independent School District.

The federal court issued an injunction earlier this year blocking a regularly scheduled May election. At the time, it asserted jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act, which was drastically reshaped by the Supreme Court last month in the case of Shelby County v. Holder.

The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, eliminating the requirement that certain covered jurisdictions prove in advance that changes to voting law are nondiscriminatory. Effectively, at least for now, the ruling ends federal oversight of Southern elections unless the government can prove discrimination.

The ruling was well-received by local-control advocates in Beaumont, where a group of reformers has been trying to win seats on the board of a district engulfed in scandal.

Texas courts have sided with the reformers, but the federal court and the Justice Department have sided with the majority black school board in blocking elections, a referendum and state court decisions that might imperil a black majority.

Attorneys for a group of reform-minded school board candidates filed papers the day after the Shelby County ruling arguing that “now that BISD is no longer a covered jurisdiction, the Court should dismiss this case.”

Two days after the Shelby County ruling, the Supreme Court vacated two lower court decisions refusing pre-clearance.

Nevertheless, the Justice Department is arguing to a federal court that the school district “likely does not have authority under state law to schedule a new election; hence such an election will need to be ordered by a court.”

The Justice Department doesn’t offer a reason why it should be a federal court interpreting state law. It even concedes that “Texas law may permit a state court to order a special election…” Instead, Perez makes a generic appeal to the federal court’s “inherent equitable authority” to settle the matter.

“While the BISD is not required to seek preclearance under Section 5 for its new election schedule, this Court retains inherent equitable authority to enter an election order in the unique circumstances presented here, where the jurisdiction’s inability to hold its regularly scheduled election this year resulted from an injunction lawfully issued by this Court, under the governing caselaw at the time,” Perez writes. “Having lawfully enjoined the election, this Court retains authority to order a new election.”

If the matter is settled by a state court, the school board likely is to get a new majority. In March, a state appeals court ruled that four incumbents had failed to file for re-election, and ordered the board to either put their reform-minded opponents’ names on the ballot as uncontested, or to certify their election as unopposed.

The federal court blocked that order.

Reformers went back to the state appeals court this week to get the judge to issue a new order, now that federal oversight has been overturned.

Texas law calls for staggered elections for school boards, with four seats up one election and three seats up two years later. Perez argues that this means “some voters” would get to vote, while others wouldn’t, “including three districts where black voters have soundly rejected” reform candidates in previous elections. “This,” Perez argues Yoda-like, “equity cannot permit.”

“In these circumstances, equity authorizes this court to restart the democratic process in the BISD,” Perez concludes.

It’s an open question whether state authorities would continue to defer to a federal court asserting no legal authority greater than its own conception of “equity.”

Contact Jon Cassidy at [email protected] or @jpcassidy000.


Jon Cassidy was a former Houston-based reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Mark Haynes

    Great Job as always Jon. Thank you for the coverage.

  • Stanley Hill

    The Attorney General Eric Holder is the second most racist person in office only beat by this nations most racist person, President Obama! Pulling the race card seems to always be on their minds, they will create a race issue even when there isn’t one! They have done more to set back what Martin Luther King fought to attain and have set back this countries progress at putting a end to racism.

  • Fishnlawyr

    “Perez makes a generic appeal to the federal court’s “inherent equitable authority” to settle the matter.”
    BAck in law school (1978), a professor assigned me the task of researching and presenting to the seminar/class a discussion about the “inherent equitable authority” of the courts.
    I read cases where the courts were slapped down because of what they did…I had cases where the appellate courts validated some of the most outlandish decisions known to western jurisprudence.
    At the end of it, the prof looked at me and said, “What is your conclusion? Where do the Courts get their “inherent” authority”
    My answer was simple “Black Robe Fever” coupled with arrogance and a desire to control the issues and not determine the outcome as dictated by the law as applied to the facts.” Prof wasn’t pleased but I remember a few classmates coming up to me after class and reminding me that I had to b e a blooming idiot to call it what it was. Still haven’t changed my mind.

  • Jon Cassidy

    I’d love to read that paper, if you’ve still got it. BTW, Perez’s clear between-the-lines argument is exactly that: Judges, you’re gonna hate the result if you don’t do something.

  • Jon Cassidy


  • Michael Getz

    Jon – I am one of the attorney’s for the “reformer’s” and I want to tell you how much I appreciate spreading this story throughout the State of Texas and the rest of the country. The millions of dollars wasted by our dysfunctional school district that should be going toward the education of our children is criminal. And just when you think you see daylight in a post-Shelby County world, you have the DOJ marching in lockstep with the majority of the board of trustees of our school district imploring the D.C. Court to retain jurisdiction and order an election that is completely contrary to Texas law under the notion that if the D.C. Court fails to act, “those evil racists in Beaumont are going to do bad things”. It is enough to make you want to puke.

  • Jon Cassidy

    Happy to spread the word. I think it’ll get awfully crazy if the DC court loses its mind and takes the DOJ’s bait. The Texas court & BISD aren’t obliged to heed unlawful injunctions from a body without jurisdiction.

  • RedSoloCup

    Eric Holder needs to be in a prison cell.

  • James May

    and is it any wonder Texas wants to secede? Why is the federal government getting involved in LOCAL elections? (less to the point why is there a federal Department of Education? education is a local matter (state at most))

  • KillAtWill

    I wish Texas would leave the USA.. i’d join them.

  • Had_Enough2010

    Will someone kak this mutherfucker

  • Had_Enough2010

    He’s a cancer to society

  • Samson4you

    Thank you for your efforts! I’m back in the Houston Area in two weeks. Good to see some resistance to federal overreach!

  • Bob Chaney, Willow Springs, MO

    I’m for anything that helps the education of the children to be fair and equitable and to teach good Conservative values. I also love the “in your face” attitude of Texas when it comes to dealing with the Feds…they have no business is a state’s decisions on education….it is a state’s right to educate and legislate withing their sovereign boundaries…and we could go one step further…there really is no need for the Department of Education, all they have done is screw up our kids by what they are mandating to be taught….Keep up the good work,Texas!!

  • Bob Chaney, Willow Springs, Mo

    along with, obutthead, reid, pelosi and any card carrying communist in our government.

  • Bloom04

    Upcoming headline: Obama Blocks Texas Election by Executive Order

  • Todd Griffith

    No way this should happen. Catherine Englebrecht was targeted by the IRS because she discovered voter fraud going on in Texas in the fall of 2009. George Soros and the democrat party of Texas has tried to sue her. The DOJ is a POS just like the rest of their regime fraudulently in power. Communists!!

  • lanningsplace

    Apparently, Holder’ only job is to violate existing laws, ignore the Constitution, and get his nose in the business of every state he wants to control. I can’t wait until this racist bigot is no longer the DOJ and someone begins to make his life miserable. That’s after he’s convicted and serving time in the bowels of a forgotten prison somewhere.

  • Bob Bullock

    If Texas does it may cause a domino affect. Obama would love that, then he would be just like Lincoln.

  • TX-Secede

    Kllatwill – see http://www.texasnationalist.com – we don’t have to put up with this overreach and longer.

  • TX-Secede
  • Guest

    Dont forget that Orangutang. Sheila Jackson Lee.

  • Guest

    Ok, ILL SAY WHAT EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS AND WONT SAY! Because they all look our for the ni **ers! The whole world see’s what a stellar job they did with DETROIT!

  • Guest

    Now does everyone see what the KKK was trying to PREVENT!?