Eric Holder Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sued Texas on Thursday, escalating the battle over voting rights and saying the Legislature was intentionally trying to discriminate against Hispanics when it redrew its congressional district maps and passed a voter-ID law.

Meanwhile, Arizona and Kansas are fighting the federal government on another front in the voting wars, suing the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to demand that anyone who registers to vote in those states be required to prove they are citizens.

“The thread that ties these two cases together is they both represent the federal government attempting to exercise unconstitutional control over the states’ voting systems,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, who is leading that state’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday. “This is definitely a contest between the federal government and states over the states’ sovereign authority to control their elections.”

Voting rights shifted to the forefront after the Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, saying the federal government cannot rely on a decades-old formula to decide which states have to get federal “preclearance” for any voting changes.

That ruling enraged Mr. Holder and President Obama. A bipartisan coalition in Congress already had begun working on ways to rewrite the formula and restore teeth to the Voting Rights Act.