Federal Judge Rejects Texas' Revised Voter ID Law

25 August, 2017, 00:37 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon  KUT

The Texas Legislature made changes to the law during its session earlier this year, codifying that fix, but the judge found those changes did not negate the discriminatory objective of the original law.

Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton called the court ruling "outrageous" and said the state would appeal it.

Paxton said the Department of Justice "is satisfied that the amended voter ID law has no discriminatory goal or effect". Safeguarding the integrity of elections in Texas is essential to preserving our democracy. "The district judge's opinion to the contrary violates Supreme Court precedent, and I trust that the Fifth Circuit will reverse it on appeal". Ramos said the law violates the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution.

The Justice Department filed a brief last month asking the court to halt action against the Texas voter ID law, saying the state's new law fixed discriminatory issues of the state's 2011 voter ID law.

The injunctions are another blow to Texas' track record on voter rights. "It doesn't matter how many times the state tries to dress the law in sheep's clothing - its intent is to discriminate and prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots".

Ramos also criticized the law for not expanding the types of photo IDs permissible for voting, despite the fact that Texas has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Ramos affirmed her decision in April.

Judge Ramos, however, wrote today that "Defendants and the United States have failed to sustain their burden of proof that SB 5 fully ameliorates the discriminatory goal or result of SB 14".

Retooling the law this spring, the Legislature added a provision that voters without an acceptable ID could still vote if they signed an affidavit.

In the revised version, the Texas Legislature allowed voters who did not possess an approved ID were allowed to fill out a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment (DRI), explaining the reason they did not have an ID.

Paxton argued that Texas couldn't be held liable for adopting the judge-drawn rules, but Ramos said Paxton presented no evidence that the changes fixed problems with the law.

Gonzales Ramos continued: "SB 5 perpetuates the selection of types of ID most likely to be possessed by Anglo voters and, disproportionately, not possessed by Hispanics and African-Americans". It passed after Ramos ruling, but to the judge's chagrin, however, the list of seven required IDs did not change.

The Obama Dept. of Justice opposed the Texas law, known as SB 5, but under the Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions supports it. "The federal district court's decisions rejecting SB 14 and SB 5 reaffirm the core objective of the hard-fought Voting Rights Act which sought to eliminate racially discriminatory barriers to voting no matter how they are disguised".

"The court has found that the SB 5 [Declaration of Reasonable Impediment] process does not fully relieve minorities of the burden of discriminatory features of the law", she wrote.

The ruling has the potential of putting Texas back under restrictions of the Voting Rights Act.


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