The Trump Administration Lost Again in Court, This Time on Voter ID
- Author: Annette Adams Apr 14, 2017,
Apr 14, 2017, 7:30
A federal district court in Washington, DC, first blocked the law all the way back in August 2012.
Underthe Voting Rights Act - which prohibits discrimination at the polling place and, among other things, outlawed literacy tests and other ploys that historically targeted minority voters - states with a history of racial discrimination must get permission from the Justice Department before they can change their voting laws.
"The court's decision.should issue the death knell for burdensome voter ID requirements in Texas and across the country".
Judge Ramos said the Fifth Circuit's evidence did little to tip the scales in the state's favor. "T$3 hese efforts revealed a pattern of conduct unexplainable on nonracial grounds, to suppress minority voting", Ramos wrote in her opinion.
SB 14 was passed, at least in part, with a discriminatory intent in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"Today's ruling is a crucial step in the six-year journey toward justice for Texas voters since this restrictive voter ID law was passed", Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center, which represented disenfranchised voters in the case, said in a statement.
"Judge Ramos was absolutely correct in her judgment that this law was created to harm minority voters and can not stand", Lang said. "To call SB 14's disproportionate impact on minorities statistically significant would be an understatement". It requires the Legislature to pass a law that a voter shall present "valid photographic identification before receiving a ballot to vote in person". Instead, she issued Monday's decision, which largely tracks her 2014 ruling. Paxton said lawmakers are working on a law better suited to survive court scrutiny at a Texas Asian Republican Assembly meeting last Tuesday. "Sadly, the damage has been done". The three-judge panel ruled that Texas' voter identification requirements disproportionately discriminate against blacks and Hispanics by making it more hard for them to vote. And she noted that though lawmakers said they would decrease the state's $27 million budget shortage, the law actually added some $2 million to the shortfall.
Ramos said in her decision that the voter ID bill "was passed with a discriminatory goal, despite its proponents' assertions that it was necessary to combat voter fraud". Lawyers for the Trump Department of Justice echoed that perspective and urged Ramos to delay her decision until the new bill could work its way through the Legislature. Meanwhile, state conservatives used "extraordinary procedural tactics" to rush the bill through the legislature as quickly as possible. Ramos found that the drafters implemented unduly strict terms with an awareness of the law's likely disproportionate impact. "Many categories of acceptable photo IDs permitted by other states were omitted from the Texas bill".
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January, saying the case had not yet worked its way through the lower courts. Most importantly, a finding of intent allows the courts, if they choose, to put jurisdictions under federal oversight so that future changes to election procedures must be approved by the DOJ. While Republicans held a majority in both the state House and Senate, Democrats were able to block the bill three times.