For the second time this week, federal judges have dealt setbacks to grand plans by Texas Republicans to
suppress the minority vote protect the sanctity of the ballot.
Tuesday a federal panel found the state's new redistricting maps to be biased; today another panel has ruled that the new voter ID law unfairly affects minorities.
The panel, based out of Washington, D.C., called Texas' proposed law "the most stringest in the country,' to which Tea Party legislators probably would respond, "Well, yeah? So?"
It meant something to the judges, though. They criticized the fact that the law (SB 14) would force minorities to get government ID they might otherwise never use:
Moreover, uncontested record evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining SB 14-qualifying ID will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty. We therefore conclude that SB 14 is likely to lead to "retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise."
In non-legal language: Nice try.
State Senator Rodney Ellis praised the ruling.
I thank the DC Federal Court for standing up for voting rights and against discrimination and disenfranchisement. Throughout this entire process, Texas consistently failed to produce information showing the law would not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. The Voting Rights Act exists for this exact purpose: protecting the ability of all Americans to access the ballot box.
Attorney General Greg Abbott was not so sanguine:
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The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box. Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana -- and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail.
Governor Rick Perry weighs in :
Chalk up another victory for fraud. Today, federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections. The Obama Administration's claim that it's a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense. I will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott to fight for the same right that other states already have to protect their elections.