“The court has found that the SB 5 process does not fully relieve minorities of the burden of discriminatory features of the law.”
A federal judge has once again struck down the Texas voter ID law, stating that the changes the lawmakers made over the summer did not eliminate the discriminatory language. From The Hill:
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the law was enacted with the deliberate intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Ramos said that it violates the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution.
The original 2011 law, Senate Bill 14, one of the most restrictive in the nation, requires registered voters to present one of seven forms of government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot.
Lawmakers responded to previous judicial pushback against that bill by passing Senate Bill 5, a revamped version of the voter ID law this summer. The judge on Wednesday issued an injunction barring enforcement of that measure as well.
That measure created options for voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of the seven forms of identification outlined by the state.
I blogged about this subject in April when Judge Ramos struck down the law a second time:
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.”
Over the summer, the Texas legislation passed Senate Bill 5, which added U.S. passport books and cards as accepted forms of ID.
Judge Ramos decided that the rewrite did not change the discriminatory language in the original bill. From The Hill:
“The court has found that the SB 5 [Declaration of Reasonable Impediment] process does not fully relieve minorities of the burden of discriminatory features of the law,” she wrote.
“Thus the court has the power to enjoin SB 5 as a continuing violation of the law as determined in this case,” she continued. “The court thus issues injunctive relief to prevent ongoing violations of federal law and the recurrence of illegal behavior.”
“This feature remains discriminatory because SB 5 perpetuates the selection of types of ID most likely to be possessed by Anglo voters and, disproportionately, not possessed by Hispanics and African-Americans,” she wrote.
The judge’s decision also stated that the state of “Texas couldn’t be trusted to educate voters about changes to its ID law, following its widely criticized efforts ahead of elections in 2016 that were marked by confusion at the polls.” Ramos acknowledged that Texas promised to spend $4 million on voter education, but she noted that this promise is nowhere in “SB 5 or any other statute.”
If no one touches Ramos’s decision, then no one will have to show an ID in future elections. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he will appeal:
“The U.S. Department of Justice is satisfied that the amended voter ID law has no discriminatory purpose or effect,” he said in a statement. “Safeguarding the integrity of elections in Texas is essential to preserving our democracy. The 5th Circuit should reverse the entirety of the district court’s ruling.”
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