When originally passed by Governor Rick Perry and the staunchly Republican, staunchly CONservative (and it must be said, staunchly white, privileged and male) Texas Legislature of 2011, lawmakers in Austin’s pink dome had set out to do one thing… create one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the history of the United States. Their goal with the law was to discourage voting by any and all disadvantaged classes at every possible measure. So much so that even supporters of the concept of Voter ID laws took a look at Texas, and decided our law was a bridge too far.
Thus was the case with today’s ruling from the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who sided with the Obama Administration and overturned the state’s ridiculous Voting restrictions. Here’s the main story from the Associated Press (via the New York Times)…
AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court struck down Texas’ voter ID law on Wednesday in a victory for the Obama administration, which had taken the unusual step of bringing the weight of the U.S. Justice Department to fight new Republican-backed mandates at the ballot box.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 law carries a “discriminatory effect” and violates one of the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act — the heart of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
Texas was allowed to use the voter ID law during the 2014 elections, thereby requiring an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters to have a photo ID.
Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law required opponents to meet a far higher threshold and prove that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters.
By most assessments, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is considered to be one of the most Conservative federal benches in the United States.
To those that have lived through the last several election cycles in Texas, today’s ruling shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as it really was the logical conclusion. As I wrote in 2014, the Texas Voter ID law is in a class all its own because the state doesn’t want everyone to vote. The law targets certain voting populations, while letting others slide. And for those that may not have access photo ID but are extra determined to vote, Texas makes their new form of “non-ID” (used only for voting, and nothing else) very cumbersome to obtain. Basically, Texas lawmakers have been asking for this decision, so it’s good to see that they finally got it.
Here is the link to the court’s full opinion.
As of press time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had yet to comment on the 5th Circuit ruling. Understandable given he’s been busy lately trying to figure out how to keep himself out of prison, which seems to be taking precedence over other important business of the state. When is he planning to resign anyway??
This is the Election Identification Certificate, otherwise known as Texas’ non-ID. Photo credit: The Texas Department of Public Safety