Politics
8:00 am
Sun June 30, 2013

How This Week's 3 Big Supreme Court Decisions Affect Texas

This week was a busy one for the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled on cases involving three major issues: affirmative action, same sex marriage and voting rights. 

All three of these cases have national implications, but they also mean changes for Texans, too. 

On Monday, the court ruled on a case that most directly affects Texans: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The court essentially punted the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals because it didn't apply proper scrutiny to UT's affirmative action policy when the Fifth Circuit previously heard the case. Whatever the Fifth Circuit decides will stand as the final decision. The case is expected to take another year. 

Tuesday, the court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law to prevent voter discrimination against minorities. The court found Section 4 is unconstitutional. That section dictates which states need federal approval to make changes to their election laws. Texas has been one of nine states that requires federal pre clearance to change its laws since 1975.  The court found Section 4 used outdated reasoning to decide which states required federal oversight. For Texans, this decision has the greatest effect on Voter ID laws and redistricting. 

Finally, on Wednesday, the court handed down two decisions regarding same sex marriage, United States v Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The first case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which President Bill Clinton signed in 1996. It means same sex couples legally married are recognized by the federal government, and can now receive federal benefits as a couple. The second case found California's voter approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. However, the Texas law banning same sex marriage in the state is still on the books