Voting Rights Laws in Two Red States on Hold

Late yesterday the Supreme Court and s federal judge put the brakes on voter ID laws in two states.

In Texas, US District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the law passed in 2011 was tantamount to an “unconstitutional poll tax” and an unconstitutional burden on minority voters

“The court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” Ramos wrote in a 147-page ruling. [..]

The trial stemmed from a battle over stringent voter ID measures signed into law by Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry in 2011. The measure, which supporters say will prevent voter fraud, requires voters to present a photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID card.

Plaintiffs argued the law would hit elderly and poorer voters, including ethnic minorities, hardest because they are less likely to have such identification.

They would therefore be more likely to be turned away on voting day, suppressing the turnout of groups who traditionally have supported Democrats, the plaintiffs charged.

Then last night the US Supteme Court granted the request of civil rights group preventing a new voter identification law in Wisconsin from going into effect. It overturned the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals that that had declared the law constitutional.

On Thursday night the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-page order that vacated the appeals court ruling pending further proceedings. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the application should have been denied because there was no indication that the 7th Circuit had demonstrably erred. [..]

Wisconsin’s photo ID law has been a political flashpoint since Republican legislators passed it in 2011. The GOP argues the mandate is a common sense step toward reducing election fraud. Democrats maintain no widespread fraud exists and that the law is really an attempt to keep Democratic constituents who may lack ID, such as the poor, minorities and the elderly, from voting.

The law was in effect for the February 2012 primary but subsequent legal challenges put it on hold and it hasn’t been in place for any election since.

The ACLU and allied groups persuaded a federal judge in Milwaukee to declare the law unconstitutional in April.

The ACLU has recruited an unlikely ambassador to aid in the fight to overturn and change these laws. At a photo shoot with ACLU’s Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho, comedian and actor Lewis Black Says F#%! Voter Suppression. (Warning language in the video may not be suitable for the work place.)

Not on our watch.

1 comment

    • TMC on October 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm
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