Texas Secretary of State John Steen immediately announced that his state’s voter photo identification law — which had been passed by the Texas legislature in 2011, but then barred by a federal judge using section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — will now be in effect.
Steen was sued Wednesday by Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, who represents a Latino-majority district in the Dallas area, and other plaintiffs who claimed that the photo ID law will cause candidates to incur new costs in running their campaigns; make it harder to mobilize voters; and in some cases, bar people from voting, for example, if the name on their driver’s license doesn’t match the name on their voter registration certificate.
The plaintiffs contend that the Texas voter ID violates Section 2 of the VRA.
As Chief Justice John Roberts noted in the majority opinion in the Shelby County case, “Section 2 is permanent, applies nationwide, and is not at issue in this case.”
Nina Perales, vice president of litigation at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in San Antonio, Texas, said, “It’s going to be very costly and potentially time consuming to litigate that (voter ID) issue under Section 2. It’s very expensive to do the kind of statistical analysis that’s required in that case.”
And the burden of proof is on the plaintiffs to show the law would have a discriminatory effect — and not on Texas to justify the law. Attorney General Eric Holder could also decide that the Justice Department will sue Texas under Section 2.
Political scientist Michael McDonald, a voting expert at George Mason University, said the high court’s decision in the Shelby County case “is a yellow light for voting law changes, not a green light for voting law changes – because if jurisdictions overstep, they may find themselves in court under section 2 litigation – and they may find the courts willing to put them back under section 5” using a provision called “bail-in” — which was not at issue in Tuesday’s decision.
A federal court on Thursday blocked a Texas law that would have required voters to show photo identification, ruling that the legislation would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters.
Describing the law as the most stringent in the country, the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel marks the first time that a federal court has blocked a voter-ID law. It will reverberate politically through the November elections. Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over whether tough voter-ID laws in a number of states discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics.
The panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that Texas had failed to show that the statute would not harm the voting rights of minorities in the state. In addition, the judges found that evidence indicated that the cost of obtaining a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on African American and Hispanic voters.
Evidence submitted by Texas to prove that its law did not discriminate was “unpersuasive, invalid, or both,” David S. Tatel, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote in the panel’s 56-page opinion.
Conservatives told us just last week that they object to Section Five not because they are opposed to African Americans and Latinos voting, but because Texas was treated unfairly under Section 5, the state was humiliated, feelings were hurt, and African American and Latino voters are the real racists.
But the hurt feelings provisions of the Constitution don’t apply in Section 2 so national conservatives who are claiming anguish over the SCOTUS gutting the VRA (like Eric Cantor) should be backing these efforts, right?