In allowing Texas’ voter identification law to go into effect, at least for the November election, the U.S. Supreme Court last week showed the nation precisely what it meant in 2013 when its conservatives struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County vs. Holder. The Texas law, one of the most discriminatory voting laws in modern history, runs afoul of constitutional norms and reasonable standards of justice. It is hard to chronicle in a short space the ways in which the Texas law, one of the most discriminatory voting laws in modern history, runs afoul of constitutional norms and reasonable standards of justice. State lawmakers rammed through the measure, jettisoning procedural protections that had been used for generations in the state Legislature. By requiring registered voters to present a certain kind of photo identification card, and by making it difficult for those without such cards to obtain one, the law’s Republican architects would ensure that poor voters, or ill ones, or the elderly or blacks or Latinos — all likely Democratic voters — would be disenfranchised, all in the name of preventing a type of voter fraud that does not materially exist. These lawmakers — and for that matter the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court judges who now have sanctioned the law’s implementation for next month’s election — were shown mountains of evidence on what the law’s discriminatory impact would be on minority communities. Witness after witness testified that the new law amounted to a poll tax on people who had, even in the deepest recesses of Texas, been able for decades to adequately identify themselves before lawfully casting their ballot.
What was Texas’ strongest argument against all this evidence? That a state may establish financial and practical hurdles that preclude the poor from voting so long as it — purportedly — does not discriminate against voters by race. For now, this nonsense is the law of the land in Texas.
And as Congress dithers over an amendment to the Voting Rights Act and state lawmakers continue to churn out legislation on voting that widens the nation’s divides, the high court’s ruling essentially endorses the following judicial construction — a capitulation, really, to vote suppressors everywhere — to be the law of the land in America: That even when a state with a long history of discrimination in voting practices is found to have intentionally discriminated against minority citizens by restricting their voting rights, even when a trial judge says so and even in the absence of a contradictory appellate finding on the scope and effect of that discrimination, the state still is entitled to implement those discriminatory practices in a national election.
The six Supreme Court justices who allowed the Texas law to go into effect did not write a single word about the trial judge’s extensive findings of intentional discrimination in the law’s creation or implementation. The 5th Circuit judges, who overturned that trial judge’s ruling, evaded the vital issue by noting, in passing, that those complicated issues could be resolved later, when the federal judiciary evaluated the case on the merits.
Full Article: Shame on Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court – LA Times.