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Federal Judge Rejects Texas Voter ID Law for the Second Time

Federal Judge Rejects Texas Voter ID Law for the Second Time

The judge “cited the state’s long history of discrimination” on her ruling.

A federal judge has again rejected the 2011 Texas voter ID law, stating that the legislators meant to discriminate against minority voters.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos made this same ruling in 2014, which forced an appeal. The Fifth Circuit issued a stay against the order. The Supreme Court stepped in and allowed Texas to use the voter ID law.

But last July the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans asked the judge “to re-examine the decision” since the judges found that “some of the evidence used by the judge wasn’t relevant.” The two sides reached a deal for the 2016 election, which allowed a voter to “sign a declaration swearing that he or she has had a reasonable difficulty that prevented obtaining one of the accepted forms of photo identification.”

Ramos went back to the drawing board but came to the same conclusion. The Texas Tribune reported:

After weighing the evidence again, she came to the same conclusion, according to Monday’s ruling. Her decision did not identify what some have called a smoking gun showing intent to discriminate, but it cited the state’s long history of discrimination; “virtually unprecedented radical departures from normal practices” in fast-tracking the 2011 bill through the Legislature; the legislation’s “unduly strict” terms; and lawmakers’ “shifting rationales” for passing a law that some said was needed to crack down on voter fraud.

“The Court holds that the evidence found ‘infirm’ did not tip the scales,” Ramos wrote. Civil rights groups and others suing the state offered evidence that “established a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage of SB 14,” she added.

The law requires a voter to use “one of seven forms of identification” when they vote. The voter can use a driver’s license, concealed handgun license, military ID, passport, or a state-issued personal ID card.

Democrats and civil rights activists claimed the “Republican legislators departed from procedural norms in passing the law, including classifying it as emergency legislation, cutting debate short and bypassing the ordinary committee process in both chambers.”

But Republican officials, which includes Governor Greg Abbott, insists the law stops voter ID and strengthens the integrity of elections. From The New York Times:

They said that the law was aimed at preventing voter fraud and that the departures from the normal legislative process were made to prevent Democratic lawmakers from manipulating procedural rules to thwart passage. They maintained that opponents had turned up no evidence that any legislator had intended to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics.

Texas lawmakers have not announced how they’ll respond, but they can choose to appeal again. Fox News reported:

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately react to the ruling, although the state could once again appeal, which is what one of Paxton’s top deputies appeared to suggest would happen while testifying to lawmakers just as the ruling came down. Brantley Starr, a deputy first assistant attorney general, acknowledged that Texas could be dragged back under preclearance but noted there was little precedent.

“It’s possible. It’s our belief that you’d have to have multiple instances of discriminatory purpose,” he said.


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the only bias i see is in the judge’s ruling…

she’s bound and determined to strike down the law, and will use whatever convoluted and/or specious argument she can devise to do so.

    Old0311 in reply to redc1c4. | April 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    A wise Latina.

      No, a political Latina, which shouldn’t be a problem in itself except for the fact that she is also a judge, and that makes her a Latina who clearly believes political activism is what judges are supposed to do. She is wrong, she is doing a hige disservice to her community and she must be removed since she has now demonstrated twice her incapacity to do her job with the objectivity required and expected of every judge in the US. All the ones nominated during the Obama administration cannot be trusted.

Sam in Texas | April 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Yeah. The Republicans in the Lege used all the procedural “tricks” every party in the majority in every legislature uses to get stuff passed.

And with respect to herding the minorities into districts, I could have sworn the Federal Courts required Texas to form minority majority districts so that people like Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Williams could be elected to Congress to represent blacks.

…the judges found that “some of the evidence used by the judge wasn’t relevant.”

What evidence? It seems she just imposed her own prejudices.

buckeyeminuteman | April 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm

This is the 21st century. You can’t tell me there are people who never buy beer, cigarettes, guns, use a credit card, travel by commercial means, or operate a motor vehicle. Regardless, the Republicans in Texas should have known that Democratic judges were going to go after this law. They should have crossed every “T” when passing the legislation and done it by the books.

    There are plenty of people who don’t use credit cards, fly, or drive. Bus and train travel will take any form of ID, not just the specified ones. Buying cigarettes doesn’t need ID if you look clearly over 27, buying beer doesn’t need ID if you look clearly over 21, and for both purposes any form of purported ID is accepted.

UnCivilServant | April 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm

So this judge just ruled against minimum wage and gun control laws, which were originally passed with discrimatory intent?

inspectorudy | April 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I hate to show my predjudice but with a name like Ramos, in Texas, what would anyone expect? In the age of sanctuary cities, many of which are in Texas, why would we believe that a Hispanic judge would side with any law that made it hard for her people to vote, legally or not. After all, she is a “Wise Latina woman”!

    Tom Servo in reply to inspectorudy. | April 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    This is going to end up in front of Gorsuch, no matter who wins at the 5th circuit. Cases like this are why that truly was the Flight 95 election.

    AmandaFitz in reply to inspectorudy. | April 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Appointed by Obama.

    Ragspierre in reply to inspectorudy. | April 11, 2017 at 5:59 pm


    There are a number of very fine jurists in Texas with names like “Ramos”.

    There’s another bunch of Collectivist assholes with names like O’Mally, Oberhorst, and Pruitt.

      The only BS here is yours. Obama wouldn’t have appointed her had she been remotely capable of ruling fairly.

        iconotastic in reply to SDN. | April 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        That appointment had less to do with any identity group and more to do with her progressive/lawless attitude, imho.

        Ragspierre in reply to SDN. | April 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        You stupidly miss the point. As usual.

        A surname does not make for a good jurist.


    The two sides reached a deal for the 2016 election, which allowed a voter to “sign a declaration swearing that he or she has had a reasonable difficulty that prevented obtaining one of the accepted forms of photo identification.”

    It would be interesting to know exactly how many of those signed declarations were submitted during this past election.

      Cleetus in reply to Paul. | April 12, 2017 at 6:18 am

      So does this mean that being an illegal immigrant and having difficulty in getting the appropriate picture ID is grounds for a provisional vote? (/sarc)

      Milhouse in reply to Paul. | April 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

      It would be even more interesting to put a serious effort into verifying those affidavits, and prosecuting those who made false ones.


So the judge doesn’t have to claim that any part of the law is actually discriminatory, but only that someone involved in its passage might possibly have hoped that it would be discriminatory.

Very odd.

    How is that any different from the black robed despots who took down the travel ban? They used the same ‘logic’ with a very tenuous grasp on reality.

      Milhouse in reply to rdm. | April 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Let me correct myself: mere discriminatory intent is not sufficient to strike down a law, there must also be a discriminatory impact. Impact itself is not sufficient either; there must also be intent.

      But no case in this Court has held that a legislative act may violate equal protection solely because of the motivations of the men who voted for it. […] That opinion explained well the hazards of declaring a law unconstitutional because of the motivations of its sponsors. First, it is extremely difficult for a court to ascertain the motivation, or collection of different motivations, that lie behind a legislative enactment […] Furthermore, there is an element of futility in a judicial attempt to invalidate a law because of the bad motives of its supporters. If the law is struck down for this reason, rather than because of its facial content or effect, it would presumably be valid as soon as the legislature or relevant governing body repassed it for different reasons.

      “It is true there is language in some of our cases interpreting the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments which may suggest that the motive or purpose behind a law is relevant to its constitutionality. […] But the focus in those cases was on the actual effect of the enactments, not upon the motivation which led the States to behave as they did.”

      &mdash Palmer v. Thompson 403 U.S. 217 (1971)

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | April 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    It’s not odd at all. It’s firmly established law, and completely uncontroversial, that any restriction on the franchise, even if facially neutral, must be struck down if it was enacted with a racially discriminatory intent. The catch is that the court must establish that this really was the intent; mere disparate impact is not enough.

    Here the judge purports to have found an illegitimate intent. If she’s right then the law is invalid; the only serious issue is whether she’s right, what evidence she has for her contention, and crucially what evidence would have convinced her otherwise. It appears on the face of it that she takes it for granted that the intent was illegitimate, that all such provisions by their very nature are only ever made with illegitimate intent, and therefore no evidence could persuade her otherwise. and that makes her decision illegitimate.

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | April 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Oops. The comment above, that begins “Let me correct myself” belongs here.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | April 11, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Impeach that judge…….

Same bullshit they used on the Trump refugee order.

No facts, no law, just a whole lot of ‘feels’.

2011. 2014. 2016. District court. Circuit court. Supreme court. Niw, 2017, the district court. Again.

Texas needs to say, “The US Constitution delegates the specific authority to the states to determined the method and means of voter requirements.

We thank the court for its opinion, now enforce it!”


In effect, a court can strike down anything by simply saying that only a “H8er” would want to do that. And even if you come up with a bulletproof reason that isn’t connected to “bias” or “animus”, it will still be struck down because the “H8” ends up being furthered.

To the Left, “democracy” is when the people are free to choose the pre-determined correct answer.


“But Republican officials, which includes Governor Greg Abbott, insists the law stops voter ID and strengthens the integrity of elections.”


We need to extend the death penalty to activist judges.

Used my driver’s license in Kansas last time to vote. Easy-peasy.

Walked in and handed it to the clerk.
She beeped it against a machine.
I signed and received my paper ballot.
Three minutes later I fed the completed ballot into a scanner on my way out the door. In case of a recount, the box of scanned ballots just needs run back through the scanner.

No lines, no fuss, no problem. Also, no double voting.

It should be pointed out that “the state’s long history of discrimination” is mostly from when Democrats were running Texas.

Democrat voter: I don’t need no stinkin’ ID.
Democrat Judge: I don’t need no stinkin’ evidence.

I understand the anger here, but the law is meaningless because most of the allowed forms of ID do not prove you are actually eligible to vote i.e. that you are a US citizen that has not lost their voting rights due to felony conviction. It’s doubly outrageous that such trivial obstacles to illegal voting were deemed “unduly strict”.

    gmac124 in reply to randian. | April 12, 2017 at 9:19 am

    I am not from Texas so I am assuming that voting is the same as my state. Here we have to register to vote and as long as we don’t move or miss a presidential election we show up on the voter rolls. When registering to vote they verify your voting rights. All the ID at the polling station is for is to make sure you are the person you are claiming to be. Still not impossible to vote illegally just harder.

      Milhouse in reply to gmac124. | April 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      When registering to vote they verify your voting rights.

      No they don’t. Even if they wanted to, how could they possibly do it? They have no way of knowing who is a citizen.

It does discriminate against those who are not who they say they are…. We’ve had voter ID in Louisiana for a decade after Mary Landrieu stole the 1996 Senate election. We did it discretely and without fanfare.