Thu August 30, 2012
Feds Reject Texas Voter ID Law
A United States District Court has denied Texas’ request to implement its controversial Voter ID law.
In the case of the Texas versus U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the court writes that the law – Senate Bill 14, passed in 2011 – will have a “retrogressive effect” on the voting rights of minority citizens.
Here’s the heart of the court’s opinion:
Pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas seeks a declaratory judgment that Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), a newly-enacted law requiring in-person voters to present a photo ID, “neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race[,] color,” or “member[ship] [in] a language minority group.” .. To satisfy section 5’s effect requirement, Texas must demonstrate that SB 14 will not “lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.” … For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we find that Texas has failed to make this showing—in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, SB 14 will likely have a retrogressive effect. Given this, we have no need to consider whether Texas has satisfied section 5’s purpose element. Accordingly, we deny the state’s request for a declaratory judgment.
Texas Democrats are applauding the ruling. Democratic State Senator Rodney Ellis represents Houston.
"I can't help but think that Dr. Martin Luther King and President Lyndon Baines Johnson are smiling," Ellis said in a phone interview. "We've had more UFO and Bigfoot sightings than documented cases of voter impersonation in Texas."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in an emailed statement that he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana - and were upheld by the Supreme Court," Abbott said.
The move comes just days after another federal court refused to preclear Texas' redistricting plans.
You can read the entire opinion on the Brennan Center website.