VICTORY: Texas’ Voter ID Law Found To Violate The Voting Rights Act

A day before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has unanimously ruled that a Texas voter ID law has violated the landmark law, saying it targets and disenfranchises black and Hispanic voters.

A huge kicker to this: the judge who wrote the opinion, Catharinia Haynes, is a Bush appointee.

As Republicans gear up for a very contentious primary and general election in 2016, their hopes for disenfranchising minority voters has taken another blow. Luckily, the appeals court has now broken one of the country’s strictest voter ID laws, and it did not allow for student IDs to be used, but did allow concealed carry permit IDs.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that the law would target poor and minority voters because many of them lack the money to obtain government issued IDs and do not have easy access to birth certificates. Thankfully, the panel agreed, and Haynes referenced in her opinion an analysis that shows “Hispanic registered voters and Black registered voters are 195% and 305% more likely than their Anglo peers to lack” an ID that meets the Texas requirements.

However, Haynes’ opinion also invalidated a trial court’s finding that the legislators who wrote and passed the law intentionally acted with racial discrimination in mind. Thus, another trial court must reexamine whether or not the legislators acted with intended racial bias. But coming to that conclusion a second time would be nearly impossible. Texas, should it decide to move forward after this ruling, could have all 15 judges on the Court examine the case, or it could go to the Supreme Court.

And with the Supreme Court’s hostility to voting rights and the electoral system, this case could prove to be a disaster far bigger than Citizens United.

Texas’ new governor, Greg Abbott, said, “Texas will continue to fight for its voter ID requirement to ensure the integrity of elections in the Lone Star State.”

A.K.A. – Texas will do everything to make sure it stays a white, rich man’s state.

Many questions remain in limbo after the Supreme Court gutted a provision in the Act which required states with historical precedent of voter suppression to report voting law changes to the federal government. But this is a good step for Texas, although a tentative one at best.

Voting rights hang by a thread in this country even though voter fraud is almost non existent, as proven by extensive investigations. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to dissuade those who usually vote for Democrats. With these laws, gerrymandering, and Citizens United, Republicans have literally stopped at nothing to turn our voting system into a system that benefits white, rich Republicans.

Featured image via Wikipedia