News Worms
News Worms

Judge again finds discrimination in Texas' voter ID law

Judge again finds discrimination in Texas' voter ID law

On Monday, she did so: "Upon reconsideration and a re-weighing of the evidence in conformity with the Fifth Circuit's opinion, the court holds that the evidence found "infirm" did not tip the scales", Judge Ramos wrote in her Monday ruling.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Courtstruck down the part of the law that detailed that formula - but it kept the part of the law that describes pre-clearance intact.

"The State has not met its burden", Ramos wrote. Shestruck it down in 2014, writing that it "was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose" and made it more hard for Latino and black voters to cast their ballots.

The state's voter ID law has been under legal challenge since it passed in 2011 and went into effect in 2013. It requires people to provide one of seven state-approved photo IDs in order to cast their ballot. They also point out that while Texas accepts a license to carry a handgun as a permissible form of voter ID, it doesn't accept federal or state government IDs or a student ID.

She praised Gonzales Ramos for finding a second time that SB 14 violates the Voting Rights Act.

Ramos said in her decision that the voter ID bill "was passed with a discriminatory objective, despite its proponents' assertions that it was necessary to combat voter fraud".

The Fifth Circuit remanded to Gonzales Ramos to decide whether the Legislature had it in for minority voters.

Said Marc Rylander, spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton: "We're disappointed and will seek review of this ruling at the appropriate time".

Previous legal rulings have forced Texas to allow other forms identification (a paycheck stub or utility bill, for example) and produce public service announcements, in both English and Spanish, alerting to the allowable forms of secondary IDs.

The groups who sued the laws celebrated the ruling. "Sadly, the damage has been done". That could include changes to the current version of the law, as well as possible federal oversight of the state's voting laws.

"Today's victory belongs to all Texans, for state-sponsored discrimination undermines the legitimacy of our elections", said state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin.

The judge pointed to "evidence of a pattern, unexplainable on grounds other than race", such as changes to the law rejected by the Texas legislature that would have blunted the disproportionate effect the law had on minority voters. The agency's lawyers withdrew their years-old claim that Texas had enacted the law with a discriminatory intent.

"The evidence made plain that the law was passed, at least in part, to discriminate against minority voters in Texas", Perez said.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which also represented the plaintiffs in the case Veasey v. Abbott, said the ruling "marks the fifth time that a court has found Texas's voter ID law to have been adopted with a discriminatory goal or effect on minority voters".

"Proponents touted SB 14 as a remedy for voter fraud, consistent with efforts of other states". Trump's DOJ had already shown signs that it would change its posture towards voting restrictions like the one passed in Texas with its attempt in January to delay the district court proceedings in this case.

Senate Bill 14 has been tied up by federal rules or in Federal Court since former Gov. Rick Perry signed it in May 2011. They contend the measure is used by Republicans to suppress voters who typically align with Democrats. Those documents could be bank statements, utility bills, government checks or work paychecks.

The bill would make lying on the "declaration of impediment" a third-degree felony, which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.


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