Federal court reaffirms Texas intentionally discriminated with voter ID law

Federal Judge Strikes Down Controversial Texas Voter ID Law

Federal judge: Texas voter ID law was intended to discriminate

That list includes concealed handgun licenses - but not college student IDs - and Texas was forced under court order a year ago to weaken the law for the November elections. The measure, among the strictest in the nation, has for years gone through the federal court system for years. She found that Texas hadn't proved lawmakers didn't act with discriminatory intent. Shestruck it down in 2014, writing that it "was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose" and made it more hard for Latino and black voters to cast their ballots.

The ruling was actually the second time the courts weighed in on the state's voter ID law, and to similar results - last July, the us 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act because it disproportionately targeted minority voters who were less likely to have those types of IDs.

Additionally, while a 5-4 Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2012 - the provision requiring certain states to submit any new election procedures to federal authorities for review before those procedures can take effect - a separate provision of the Voting Rights Act permits states that engage in intentional voting discrimination to be brought back under federal supervision.

The judge's ruling also sets the stage for a potential penalty for Texas that could have a long-lasting effect.

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the plaintiffs, said the ruling showed other states that discriminatory laws would not stand up to legal scrutiny.

At the heart of the issue is a raging battle between Republicans who say they hope to fight voter fraud and Democrats who say the true aim of such photo ID requirements is to create a substantial burden on the right to vote, particularly for minority voters. While the Fifth Circuit appeals court a year ago ruled that Texas' law violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act (a decision the Supremes let stand by refusing to take the case), more tricky has been that question of whether state conservatives intentionally rammed a discriminatory law through the legislature.

And the court highlighted that the "evidence shows a tenuous relationship" between the stated goal of reducing voter fraud and the legislation ultimately passed, given the rarity of voter impersonation cases in Texas - and that other, more prevalent forms of voter fraud were not addressed by the bill.

The panel stopped short of striking down the entire law, however. The appeals court asked the district court judge to determine whether lawmakers discriminated on goal.

Before the Justice Department dropped out of the case, it asked Gonzales Ramos to continue it until June 18, the day the Legislature adjourns, to give the Legislature time to pass Senate Bill 5. And it seems at least one federal district court judge is not changing her mind on the matter.

In her analysis, Ramos focused on how lawmakers rejected efforts to soften the "racial impact of SB 14", such as reducing the costs of obtaining ID cards or allowing voters to use more forms of ID.

She praised Gonzales Ramos for finding a second time that SB 14 violates the Voting Rights Act.

"The court's decision.should issue the death knell for burdensome voter ID requirements in Texas and across the country".

"So not only did [the voter ID law] not accomplish what it was supposed to, it did accomplish that which it was not supposed to do", Ramos wrote.

Wisconsin's voter ID law has been in and out of court for several years. Voters also would be required to sign a "declaration of impediment" citing why they could not obtain a state-approved ID.

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