This week the NAACP Texas State Conference and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of Texas state lawmakers filed a legal challenge to the state’s photo voter ID law. NAACP and MALC join the U.S. Department of Justice, the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, the NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund, and U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat representing the Fort Worth area, who’ve collectively filed three other suits challenging the Texas law. As with the other challenges, NAACP and MALC claim the law violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids denying voting rights to people of color. All of the challenges want Texas “bailed in” under the VRA’s Section Three preclearance provision, which requires states or counties found to have engaged in intentional discrimination to get federal permission for new election laws before they take effect. The NAACP/MALC suit differs from most of the other cases in that it also argues that the photo voter ID law violates the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment equal protection clause banning racial discrimination. In addition, it claims the Texas law violates the 15th Amendment, which prohibits governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race.
Federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos is expected to consolidate the cases during a scheduling conference on Oct. 25. But whether these legal missiles get fired separately or as one mega-strike, Texas is still going to have a lot of explaining to do about why it plans to enforce a law that it can’t prove won’t end up disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters.
“As we all know, Texas has a voter identification law that has already been ruled to be discriminatory by a bipartisan three-judge panel in Washington, D.C.,” said NAACP Texas State Conference president Gary Bledsoe.
He and the MALC co-plaintiffs are arguing that the voter ID law, Senate Bill 14, was passed at least partially to intentionally discourage or stop Texans of color from voting. The law, which significantly limits the types of identification that can be used for voting, was blocked by a federal court when Texas was subject to Section Five of the VRA because of the state’s history of discrimination against Spanish-speaking and -reading voters. But when the U.S. Supreme Court stripped Section Five of its coverage formula in June, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) announced immediately afterward that he was reinstating the law.
Full Article: Lawsuits pile up over Texas voter ID law.