SCOTUS Lets Texas ID Law Be Enforced Over Dissents

The Supreme Court, after blocking a photo ID law in Wisconsin a few days earlier turned around and allowed a virtually identical Texas law, both times without actually ruling on the merits. No reason is ever given for such decisions, but sometimes there’s a dissent and Justice Ginsburg issued a blistering one in the Texas case, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote…

Ginsburg argued that the Fifth Circuit was remiss to ignore the findings of a full trial in district court, which found that the law was “enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and would yield a prohibited disriminatory result.”

District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos struck down the law earlier this month on the grounds that it would serve as a deterrent to a large number of registered voters, most of them black or Hispanic. “Based on the testimony and numerous statistical analyses provided at trial, this Court finds that approximately 608,470 registered voters in Texas, representing approximately 4.5% of all registered voters, lack qualified SB 14 ID and of these, 534,512 voters do not qualify for a disability exemption,” Gonzalez Ramos wrote…

“Even at $2, the toll is at odds with this Court’s precedent,” she wrote. “And for some voters, the imposition is not small. A voter whose birth certificate lists her maiden name or misstates her date of birth may be charged $37 for the amended certificate she needs to obtain a qualifying ID. Texas voters born in other States may be required to pay substantially more than that.”

Ginsburg pointedly added that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

This law could have been blocked by the DOJ because of the discriminatory purpose and the longstanding history of discrimination in the state, but the Supreme Court struck down that portion of the law already.

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  • colnago80

    Just to show how absurd the law is in Texas, both gubernatorial candidates, Wendy Davis and Greg Abbot had to cast provisional ballots because of discrepancies in their ids.

  • Michael Heath

    [Justice] Ginsburg pointedly added that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

    To Republicans, this is a feature and not a bug.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I think this is a very stupid temporary stay.

    Suppose the voter ID law is put into effect during this election. Who is hurt? Thousands of qualified voters who are turned away from the polls. In a democracy, this should be viewed by anyone as a bad thing.

    Suppose the voter ID law is blocked during this election. Who is hurt? Precisely nobody. Because there is almost no voter fraud going on anyway.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

    OK, there may have been bad legislators in the past,. But there is a new professionalism in Texas’s elected officials. They are honorable men and should be given the most generous interpretation of their actions.

    (Dear Mr. Scalia, please feel free to cut and paste this to your future opinion)

  • eric

    @3 – you assume the proponents care more about fairness than winning. Probably a bad assumption.

    I think the SCOTUS could easily do away with these shennanigans, without ruling on the constitutionality of such measures, if they simply mandated that any state imposing any form of ID restriction must supply, at the State’s cost, every individual with a voter ID either when they (a) become a citizen, or (b) reach 18 years of age. In the case of immigrants, you can have the State department issue them and then bill each state for the privilege. Say your oath, step over here while we take your piture, then collect your voter ID card. I think if that happened, most of these meaure would simply disappear.

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    By the time the “decision” gets overrturned, the elections will be over. That’s the reason the “decision” is being pushed through now, instead of doing it a year ago.

    Those whose right to vote will be stolen from them won’t be allowed to vote retroactively, and thus the fraudulent results won’t change. The victims of the “law” will have the right to vote, but only when there aren’t any elections.

  • zmidponk

    eric:

    I think the SCOTUS could easily do away with these shennanigans, without ruling on the constitutionality of such measures, if they simply mandated that any state imposing any form of ID restriction must supply, at the State’s cost, every individual with a voter ID either when they (a) become a citizen, or (b) reach 18 years of age. In the case of immigrants, you can have the State department issue them and then bill each state for the privilege. Say your oath, step over here while we take your piture, then collect your voter ID card. I think if that happened, most of these meaure would simply disappear.

    This is one of the reasons I am against any form of mandatory ID, which is an idea that keeps getting proposed by somebody or other every so often over here in the UK (and did actually sort-of come into effect under Tony Blair’s Labour Government, before being scrapped and the relevant laws repealed). Unless there is some kind of mechanism in place to make this ID totally free (which, to my knowledge, none of the proposals included), in essence, this becomes a tax you have to pay to actually have the rights you are supposed to have in theory.

  • http://dailydouq.wordpress.com dailydouq

    I believe the reason they let Texas get away with it and not Wisconsin is simply the dynamics of 2016, not 2014. Texas could genuinely be in play nationally to go blue just as Colorado has drifted. Wisconsin already votes blue enough not much would change. Plus the people they’re trying to stop from voting are a lot more numerous in Texas than Wisconsin. SCOTUS can read a political map and knows that it’s 2016 that is crucial to Repug hegemony and getting rid of the Dems once and for all.