Texas election maps trial begins as US Justice Department alleges 'internal discrimination'


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SAN ANTONIO — A federal trial over Texas election maps is giving the Obama administration a chance to argue that the Voting Rights Act should still apply to the state — despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling weakening it.

The case opens Monday, though a ruling isn't expected for weeks.

At issue are statehouse and congressional districts drawn by the GOP-dominated Legislature in 2011.

The trial comes a year after the high court found that Texas and other states with a history of voting discrimination no longer need federal permission to change elections laws, undermining much of the Voting Rights Act.

Still, the Justice Department says Texas still needs approval. It points to a little-known portion of the act saying state and local governments still need permission if intentional discrimination is found.

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