Project Wonderful

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Federal Court Hearing Arguments in Texas Voter ID Case

Arguments over the legality of Texas' notorious ID law are being heard by a Federal judge in Corpus Christi.

What's super interesting about this case is that the law was originally rejected during preclearance but with preclearance effectively off the table the Justice Department will argue its case by proving that the law intentionally disenfranchises minority voters. (This, by the way, is emblematic of the shift in burden of proof in an post- Shelby County v. Holder world.) It is worth noting that under still intact Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a law is prohibited if it has the effect of discriminating against voters on the the basis of race. However, the Justice Department seeks to meet a stricter standard and prove that the law was enacted with the intent to discriminate. As you may remember, it was the formula used to determine which jurisdictions were covered and not preclearance itself that was stuck down in Shelby County v. Holder. If the DOJ can prove intent to discriminate then the federal judge can place Texas back under preclearance.

My favorite quote from a New York Times article on the case, "Texas alleg[es] that the Justice Department has gone after “only Southern, Republican-led states” and suggesting that the agency ignores the concerns of white Republican voters and favors minority Democratic voters. The allegations have outraged lawyers for the Justice Department and several minority groups, voters and Democratic lawmakers who are part of the agency’s lawsuit against Texas." Man white Republicans just can't catch a break in the disenfranchisement game.

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