Court watchers say a Texas case could trigger the dismantling of a decades-old civil rights law. Steven Shapiro, the American Civil Liberties Union’s national legal director, is to speak in Houston today, analyzing recent trends by the nation’s highest court. Texas is among nine mostly southern states with a history of discrimination which are required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act to get federal clearance before changing election rules. That’s why a new Texas voter-photo-ID law is on hold: It failed to win the Justice Department’s blessing. The state is now suing, and the case is likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The court has dropped some hints that it’s prepared to rethink the whole issue. I would like to believe that the court will not strike down what I think has been the single most successful civil rights law in American history, but I think people are appropriately anxious.”
When the high court recently reviewed a Texas redistricting case, Shapiro says, justices referred to “serious constitutional questions” raised by Section 5, the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance provision. Attorney General Greg Abbott is representing Texas before a District of Columbia district court, challenging Section 5’s constitutionality and arguing that the photo-ID law would not make it harder for minorities to vote. Abbott says the law is necessary to prevent ballot-box fraud.
Shapiro rejects that rationale. “Neither Texas nor any other state has demonstrated that there actually is a problem, but we know voter ID laws have a seriously disproportionate effect on racial minorities – principally Hispanics in the state of Texas.”
Full Article: Texas Voter I.D. Case Could Dismantle U.S. Civil Rights Law?.