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White House Strategizes With Rep. Martinez Fischer Over Voting Rights Act

Trey Martinez Fischer via Facebook

President Obama convened voting rights advocates to the White House Monday, where he doubled down on his commitment to salvaging the Voting Rights Act. Texas state representative Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, was the only Texan invited, and he said Texas was frequently discussed in the meeting with Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“Just as the President is talking about discrimination at the polls, here we are in Texas arguing this case in front of federal judges," Martinez Fischer said.

"Quite frankly, we could be the very first case that deals with the Voting Rights Act post-Shelby County,” he continued, referring to the June 25, 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down two parts of the Voting Rights Act.

Last week Holder said the Justice Department would support a lawsuit asking a federal judge to require Texas to pre-clear all new election laws in the state. Holder’s plan is to use other still valid sections of the Voting Rights Act.

“Section 2 plus Section 3 equals Section 5– you get to the same result," Martinez Fischer said.  "It [takes] a little bit longer to get there. But the Supreme Court knew exactly what they were doing when they ruled on the formula, they left Section 5 intact. They left Section 3 intact. I think it’s going to be harder to pursue but these cases take resources – they take time.”  

Martinez Fischer is one of the plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit in San Antonio that challenges new election maps. A three-judge panel is considering whether it needs to draw new maps to make sure minorities are fairly represented. Texas primary elections are scheduled for March 4, 2014. But if the voting rights lawsuits get held up in the courts, the primary elections will likely be postponed.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi