Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Statement on the Reversal by the Department of Justice in Abbott v. Perez

Feb 4, 2019
Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                  Contact: Robin Chand

February 1, 2019                                                                                        (202) 225–3816

 

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Statement on the Reversal by the Department of Justice in Abbott v. Perez

 

Jackson Lee—“The decision to reverse this position is inexplicable and suspect for two reasons: first it belies a central tenet of our justice system, that decisions are made apolitically; and it is indicative of a larger pattern of this administration outsourcing the administration of justice to special interests.”

 

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on the Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, released this statement on the decision of the United States Department of Justice to reverse its position in Abbott v. Perez:

 

“The Trump Administration’s assault on the Voting Rights Act continued on the announcement by this President’s political appointees at the Justice Department to reverse the Department’s position on a critical voting rights case emanating from the state of Texas.  The case at issue, Abbott v. Perez, has had a circuitous path through our federal courts, including a hearing last year before the Supreme Court, and deals with the manner in which legislative districts at the state and federal level are drawn, and representation apportioned.  Individuals challenging the districts drawn in Abbott indicated that they were drawn for a discriminatory intent or purpose.  In Abbott, the Court indicated that challengers to the drawn districts had not sufficiently proven racial discrimination, despite the fact prior courts had ruled these districts, substantially similar to those upheld by the Supreme Court, were discriminatory.  In this respect, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent was instructive: ‘[t]he [Court] today does great damage to [the] right of equal opportunity.  Not because it denies the existence of that right, but because it refuses its enforcement.’   To add insult to injury, the timing of Abbott v. Perez was also rather odious as the decision came exactly five years after Shelby County v. Holder, in which the Supreme Court struck down a critical provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act with assurances that despite its ruling, there would remain legal provisions to safeguard the voting rights of minority voters.  The ruling in Abbott hollowed that assurance.  Following its ruling and in light of it, the Supreme Court directed the case sent back to the lower courts for further consideration.  It is at this juncture that the Justice Department made its move, and reversed its long-held position. 

“Since litigation in this matter began, and going as far back as 2010 in the administration of President Barack Obama and through the current administration, the position of the Department of the Justice has been that the entire state of Texas should be subject to preclearance.  Put another way, this stricture required federal ratification that any change to the manner in which elections were held in Texas were not made with a discriminatory intent or for a discriminatory purpose. 

“The decision to reverse this position is inexplicable and suspect for two reasons: first it belies a central tenet of our justice system, that decisions are made apolitically; and it is indicative of a larger pattern of this administration outsourcing the administration of justice to special interests.  Rather than facilitating a system where voters choose their elected representatives, the Justice Department’s reversal all but guarantees that it condones a system where the elected officials choose their voters, to the detriment of “one person, one vote.”  I implore the Department of Justice to reconsider its reversal and reposition itself as the premier law enforcement agency for all Americans, irrespective of race, so that all can have be invested in the notion that this is a nation of, by and for the people.”

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Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget.