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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