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Texas: Federal Appeals Court Orders Texas to Pay $1M in Legal Fees in Voting Rights Case | National Law Journal

Texas must pay more than $1 million in legal fees to groups that challenged the state’s redistricting plans, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.,  ruled Tuesday. Texas forfeited any opposition to fees when it failed to make substantive arguments in the lower court, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said. A three-page advisory filed by the state—contending that Texas became the winner in the redistricting case after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder—didn’t cut it, Judge Patricia Millett wrote. “Texas gets no second bite at the apple now,” Millett wrote. “What little argument Texas did advance in its ‘Advisory’ provides an insufficient basis for overturning the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees.” Paul Smith, chairman of Jenner & Block’s appellate and Supreme Court practice who argued for the groups that sought fees from Texas, said in an email that the D.C. Circuit “properly recognized that Texas failed to file a valid opposition to our fee requests in the district court and then failed again to challenge (or even mention) the district court’s waiver holding in its opening brief on appeal.” A representative of the Texas Attorney General’s Office was not immediately available for comment.

Full Article: Texas Ordered to Pay $1M in Legal Fees in Voting Rights Case | National Law Journal.

National: Where Candidates Stash Their Cash | Bloomberg

Chain Bridge Bank’s single ­location is next to a wine store and a café on the ground floor of a luxury condo building in suburban McLean, Va., about a half-hour outside downtown Washington. It looks like any small-town bank. Tellers keep bowls of candy at their windows, and staff members talk to customers about no-fee checking accounts. But right now, Chain Bridge, which has about 40 employees, is responsible for more of the hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the 2016 presidential race than any other bank in the country. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Chain Bridge is the sole bank serving Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which reported raising $11.4 million as of June 30, and his allied super-PAC, Right to Rise, which says it’s raised $103 million so far. Donald Trump’s campaign banks at Chain Bridge, and it’s listed as the primary financial institution for the campaigns of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. It’s also the only bank used by super-PACs supporting neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, all Republicans.

Full Article: Where Candidates Stash Their Cash - Bloomberg Politics.

Texas: Four Years Later, Texas Is Still Defending Its Voter ID Law | Huffington Post

A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that could have national implications for states that require voters to present government-issued forms of photo identification at the polls. The issue at hand — Texas’ contentious photo ID law — is expected to ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court. But first a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case. There, voting rights advocates will argue that a federal judge’s ruling from October — which called the law an unconstitutional “poll tax,” intentionally discriminatory and an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote — should be upheld. Critics of the law argued that hundreds of thousands of Texans lacked the correct form of identification, but the state’s leadership has insisted that the law is meant to protect against voter fraud and is not an effort to make it more difficult for any demographic to vote.

Full Article: Four Years Later, Texas Is Still Defending Its Voter ID Law.

Texas: U.S. appeals court says Texas must pay legal fees in voter ID case | Reuters

A U.S. appeals court said on Tuesday the state of Texas must pay about $3 million in legal fees to plaintiffs after being on the wrong side of a civil rights lawsuit over voting. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said a lower court made a mistake when it allowed Texas to avoid paying the fees and reversed its decision.

Texas: Ginsburg Was Right: Texas’ Extreme Voter ID Law Is Stopping People From Voting | Huffington Post

A Texas voter ID law considered to be one of the most restrictive in the country is doing exactly what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned it would do: stopping Americans from voting. A disabled woman in Travis County was turned away from voting because she couldn’t afford to pay her parking tickets. An IHOP dishwasher from Mercedes can’t afford the cost of getting a new birth certificate, which he would need to obtain the special photo ID card required for voting. A student at a historically black college in Marshall, who registered some of her fellow students to vote, won’t be able to cast a ballot herself because her driver’s license isn’t from Texas and the state wouldn’t accept her student identification card. There are plenty of stories like this coming out of Texas in the early voting period leading up to Election Day. Texas’ tough voter ID law, signed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011, requires voters to show one of seven types of photo identification. Concealed handgun licenses are allowed, but college student IDs are not, nor are driver’s licenses that have been expired for more than sixty days. The law has been the subject of an extensive legal battle, with a federal court finding it unconstitutional earlier this month. But the Supreme Court then rejected an emergency request to put the law on hold for the upcoming election. Ginsburg authored a blistering dissent to that decision, calling the law an “unconstitutional poll tax.” The ruling marked the first time in 32 years that the Supreme Court allowed a law restricting voting rights to be implemented after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional for targeting minorities, according to SCOTUSblog.

Full Article: Ginsburg Was Right: Texas' Extreme Voter ID Law Is Stopping People From Voting.

Texas: Federal judge takes on Texas voter ID law at heart of discrimination debate | The Guardian

The fate of Texas’ tough voter ID law moved into the hands of a federal judge this week, following a trial that the US Justice Department said exposed another chapter in the state’s troubling history of discrimination in elections. State attorneys defending the law signed by Republican Governor Rick Perry in 2011 urged the judge to follow other courts by upholding photo identification requirements. The most recent such case came this month when a federal appeals panel reinstated Wisconsin’s law in time for Election Day. Whether Texas will also get a ruling before then is unclear. US district judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ended the two-week trial in Corpus Christi on Monday without signaling when she’ll make a decision, meaning that as of now, an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters will need a photo ID to cast a ballot in November.

Full Article: Federal judge takes on Texas voter ID law at heart of discrimination debate | World news | theguardian.com.

Texas: Fate of Texas’ tough voter ID law in judge’s hands | Associated Press

The fate of Texas’ tough voter ID law moved into the hands of a federal judge Monday, following a trial that the U.S. Justice Department said exposed another chapter in the state’s troubling history of discrimination in elections. State attorneys defending the law signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 urged the judge to follow other courts by upholding photo identification requirements. The most recent such case came this month when a federal appeals panel reinstated Wisconsin’s law in time for Election Day. Whether Texas will also get a ruling before then is unclear. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ended the two-week trial in Corpus Christi without signaling when she’ll make a decision, meaning that as of now, an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters will need a photo ID to cast a ballot in November.

Full Article: Fate of Texas’ tough voter ID law in judge’s hands - The Washington Post.

Texas: Data discrepancy delays voter ID trial | Corpus Christi Caller-Times

The State of Texas’ legal team still plans to wrap up its defense of the voter ID law in federal court Thursday, but it will be a while before the two sides make their final pleas to the judge. Closing arguments were delayed Wednesday after a data discrepancy was discovered this week. Originally slated for Thursday, the closing arguments are rescheduled for Sept. 22 so some experts who provided reports for the trial can reanalyze their data. The trial is over Senate Bill 14, a law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 that requires Texans to show certain forms of state or federal photo identification before casting a ballot. Opponents say it forces an undue burden on minority and low-income voters, and supporters say requiring photo ID is already commonplace in American society. The data issue comes from a category of about 183,000 voters in the Texas voter registration database who have surrendered their driver’s licenses. The opponents’ experts counted those individuals as lacking a license, and therefore unable to vote if they don’t possess one of the other forms of approved identification.

Full Article: Data discrepancy delays Texas voter ID trial - Caller-Times.

Texas: Texas voter ID trial opens in U.S. court | Reuters

A U.S. court in Texas heard arguments on Tuesday in a case over a law requiring voters to present photo identification, a move the state’s Republican leaders say will prevent fraud while plaintiffs call it an attempt at suppressing minority turnout. The case is also part of a new strategy by the Obama administration to challenge voting laws it says discriminate by race in order to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that freed states from strict federal oversight. The trial that started on Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi stems from a battle over stringent voter ID measures signed into law by Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, in 2011. The law requires voters to present a photo ID such as a concealed handgun license or driver’s license, but it excludes student IDs as invalid. Plaintiffs argued in opening arguments the law will hit the elderly and poorer voters including racial minorities the hardest because they are less likely to have such IDs.

Full Article: Texas voter ID trial opens in U.S. court | Reuters.

Texas: Voter ID law must stand trial, judge rules | MSNBC

It’s far too soon to make any predictions. But a recent decision by a federal judge in the challenge to Texas’s harsh voter ID law may augur well for the chances of getting the law struck down when it goes to trial in September. Overturning the law would be a massive win for the Obama administration, which is spearheading the challenge, and could boost Democrats’ long-term hopes of competing in Texas. It would be an embarrassing defeat for Gov. Rick Perry and for Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is highlighting his defense of the law as he runs to succeed Perry as governor. The law, passed in 2011 with strong support from Perry, imposes the strictest ID requirement in the nation. It requires that Texans show one of a narrow range of state or federal IDs. Gun licenses are accepted, but student IDs, and even out-of-state driver’s licenses, aren’t. Finding that it would disproportionately affect minority voters, a federal court blocked the law in 2012 under the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required the state to get federal approval for its voting laws. But hours after the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 last year, Abbott announced that the law would go into effect. 

Full Article: Texas voter ID law must stand trial, judge rules | MSNBC.

Editorials: Conservatives’ 17th Amendment repeal effort: Why their plan will backfire. | David Schleicher/Slate

ver the past year, an increasingly central plank of conservative and Tea Party rhetoric is that constitutional change is needed and that the 17th Amendment in particular, which gives state residents the power to elect senators directly, should be repealed. (Previously, senators were selected by the state legislatures). Hard-right figures across the country, from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Georgia Senate candidate Rep. Paul Broun to a steady drumbeat of state officials, have now called for repealing the amendment and giving the power to select senators back to the state legislatures. Radio host Mark Levin’s book The Liberty Amendments, calling for repeal, among other constitutional changes, was the best-selling book on constitutional law last year. Clearly this is an idea with legs. This boomlet of energy for repealing the 17th Amendment is not the first in recent memory. Back in 2010, repeal was similarly endorsed by a bevy of conservative bigwigs from Justice Antonin Scalia to Gov. Rick Perry to now-Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Back then, support for repeal was mocked in Democratic campaign ads as kooky, but perhaps it’s time to concede that it is no longer a fringe idea. Given the ascendance of the right flank of the GOP, it’s worth taking the argument for repeal seriously.

Full Article: Conservatives’ 17th Amendment repeal effort: Why their plan will backfire..

Texas: ‘Dark Money’ debate rekindled | Houston Chronicle

Lawyer and lobbyist Steve Bresnen is asking Texas’ campaign finance regulators to shine a light on secret campaign spending in state elections. Reinvigorating the debate over dark money spending in the Lone Star State, Bresnen filed a petition for rulemaking with the Texas Ethics Commission on Tuesday asking the state panel to ensure “all contributors of money used to influence elections would be disclosed.” (read full the petition here). “The purpose of my proposal is to eliminate ‘dark money’ from Texas elections by dragging it into the sunlight,” Bresnen wrote to acting Executive Director Natalia Luna Ashley. “Secret money influencing elections — the life blood of self governance — is intolerable as a matter of law and is against the public interest. The Commission should exercise its authority to do something about it.”

Full Article: Texas ‘Dark Money’ debate rekindled - Texas Politics.

Texas: Perry taps Houston lawyer as Texas secretary of state | Houston Chronicle

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday appointed Houston lawyer Nandita Berry to be secretary of state, succeeding John Steen Jr. of San Antonio, who announced his resignation this month. Berry’s appointment, effective Jan. 7, will make her the first Indian-American to hold the position of chief elections officer for Texas, Perry said. “Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the state of Texas,” Perry said in a statement announcing the appointment. She was 21 when she arrived from India “with nothing but $200 to her name” and has become “one of the most accomplished attorneys in the state.” “I am truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of Stephen F. Austin, Texas’ first secretary of state,” Berry said in a statement. “Like him, I came to Texas in search of a better life and the limitless opportunities to be found across our great state.”

Full Article: Perry taps Houston lawyer as Texas secretary of state - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: Voter ID Case Gets September 2014 Trial Date | CBS

A federal judge has set a September 2014 trial date for a lawsuit seeking to overturn Texas’ Voter ID — just ahead of a pivotal general election. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos said Friday the trial will start September 2 in Corpus Christi. Opponents hope to halt the law before next year’s much-watched election. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running to replace Governor Rick Perry in 2014, is defending the 2011 law. His office declined to comment Friday. The law requires Texans to show one of six forms of identification at the polls.

Full Article: Texas Voter ID Case Gets September 2014 Trial Date « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth.

Editorials: The sort-of right to vote in Texas | CNN

Almost before the smoke had cleared at Pearl Harbor, he had enlisted to serve his country in the Army Air Forces. He viewed the war in the South Pacific through the bomb sight of a B-24 Liberator as a second lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery. When he got home to Texas, he was eventually elected to Congress and served 34 years, including a term as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. But Jim Wright found out the other day he wasn’t qualified to vote in the election in his home state. Wright, who no longer drives at 90, tried to get a voter card under a new Texas law and was told his expired driver’s license and university lecturer’s ID were not adequate proof of his identity. A war hero and former congressman had to go home and dig through old files to return with his birth certificate. Hurrah for the flag of the free? Although there has been only one indicted incident of voter fraud in Texas since 2000, Gov. Rick Perry and the GOP-controlled legislature passed a stringent voter ID law.

Full Article: Opinion: The sort-of right to vote in Texas - CNN.com.

Editorials: Texas holds ’em voteless with new ID law | The Washington Post

Greg Abbott, the Republican attorney general of Texas, campaigned long and loud for the state’s new voter ID law. The law is a transparent effort to tilt elections in the state to Republicans by suppressing the minority vote, which is becoming more important as Texas’s demographics shift. So it was a rich irony that Mr. Abbott, who is running for governor, himself set off alarms as a suspicious voter the other day, along with a state judge, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, former speaker of the House Jim Wright and uncounted and unnamed others who tried to vote on a set of state constitutional amendments. The new law, passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, masquerades as a tool to combat election fraud. In fact, as in other states that have enacted similar measures, there is no statistically significant — or even insignificant — evidence of in-person fraud at the polls in Texas.

Full Article: Texas holds ’em voteless with new ID law - The Washington Post.

Texas: Rights groups seeking millions in legal fees over redistricting battle | San Antonio Express-News

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s defense of a now-defunct 2011 redistricting plan could leave the state on the hook for a roughly $6 million legal tab to pay civil rights groups that sued to block the maps. That’s the ballpark total for reimbursement requests from plaintiffs waging a years-long legal war with Abbott over redistricting maps passed by the Republican-led Legislature in 2011. Federal judges have deemed those maps discriminatory to minority voters, and they were never used. A three-judge panel in San Antonio drew interim maps for the 2012 election for the Texas House and Senate and the U.S. Congress. Led by Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry, state Republicans decided months ago to abandon the 2011 maps and replace them permanently with the political boundaries drawn by the judges. The Legislature approved the plans during a special session this summer.

Full Article: Rights groups seeking millions in fees - San Antonio Express-News.

Texas: Court Ruling Allows Texas To Use Current Election Maps; Civil Rights Groups Claim Victory | Fox News

A judicial ruling means Texas’ primary elections will not be delayed since the state will be able to use existing voting maps, not the controversial 2011 maps drawn by the legislature, deemed as illegal by civil rights groups. But advocates may not be able to claim victory for long, since the ruling is temporary as judges sort out a complex and possibly precedent-setting lawsuit. The three-judge panel in San Antonio gave both sides in the lawsuit over Texas’ voting maps reason to claim victory. The court will not draw its own map for the 2014 elections, as civil rights groups wanted, but it also did not throw out the lawsuit completely, as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requested. But the ruling is viewed largely as a win for state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, because the redistricting case at one time threatened to dismantle her senate district. 

Full Article: Court Ruling Allows Texas To Use Current Election Maps; Civil Rights Groups Claim Victory | Fox News Latino.

Editorials: U.S. v. Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

Ballot integrity measure. That’s what Republican officials in Texas call SB 14, the voter identification measure designed to make it measurably harder for people there to vote. Not all people, mind you. Just people who don’t own or drive cars, and people who can’t afford to take time off from work to travel long distances to state offices that are not open at convenient times for working people, and elderly people who are ill and young people who cannot afford to pay the cost of new IDs they have never before needed. People, everyone acknowledges, who are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican even in the still Red State of Texas. So the headline alone — United States v. Texas — tells you a great deal about what you need to know about the new civil rights lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last Thursday in federal court in Corpus Christi. It tells you that the battle over voting rights in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in late June that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has become the latest keynote in the nasty national debate between the Obama Administration and its most ardent conservative critics. And it suggests that things are likely going to get worse before they get better.

Full Article: U.S. v. Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic.

Texas: Dallas County taxpayers will fund both sides of voter ID fight | The Dallas Morning News

No matter what Dallas County residents think about Texas’ controversial voter identification law, their tax dollars are being used to help fund the fight for it. And against it. Dallas County commissioners narrowly agreed Tuesday to join a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Perry over his intentions to implement the law requiring voters to show ID at the polls. The 3-2 vote at the Commissioners Court meeting means Dallas County taxpayers are helping fund the federal and county fights against the law, as well as the state’s battles to defend it. “It’s a dangerous precedent to be committing the Dallas County treasury for purely partisan politics,” said Mike Cantrell, the lone Republican county commissioner. Democratic Commissioner Elba Garcia bucked the party line and joined Cantrell in voting against joining the lawsuit. Democratic County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioners Theresa Daniel and John Wiley Price voted to do so. Their support allows District Attorney Craig Watkins, also a Democrat, to hire law firm Brazil & Dunn to help the county intervene in the existing lawsuit. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and seven others sued Perry in June.

Full Article: Dallas County taxpayers will fund both sides of voter ID fight | Dallasnews.com - News for Dallas, Texas - The Dallas Morning News.