October 10, 2014

#GregAbbott trying to run out the court clock on voter ID

Yesterday, federal district court judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down Texas' voter ID law. Ramos ruled it was much more restrictive on the types of ID it allowed than other states whose voter ID laws have been approved all the way through the Supreme Court.

And, here's where it really gets fun. Because many of these restrictions involve costing voters money, Judge Ramos said this is a de facto poll tax. Plaintiffs' attorney Chris Dunn explains in detail.

The 24th Amendment abolished such, of course, because they were used in the South to block black voters.

And, this could land Texas in more hot water:
A panel of judges previously shot down the state's request to implement the law on the grounds that it posed “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” But Texas was allowed to move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a provision of the Voting Rights Act that had prevented the state from implementing voting changes without permission from a court or the federal government due to the state’s history of racial discrimination.
What hot water?

Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog explains.
Also extremely important: the court expressly finds intentional discrimination relevant to bail-in under the Voting Rights Act, and says it will consider a bail-in order in the days to come.  If the court indeed follows up with a bail-in order, Texas could become the first state brought back under a preclearance regime since Shelby County.
Shelby County was the SCOTUS ruling that gutted "preclearance" for most Southern states that had shown a pattern of racial discrimination in voting access and rights, requiring changes in voting regulations, redistricting and everything in between to be "precleared" by the U.S. Department of Justice. However, the majority of the Nine allowed for states with new violations to be "bailed back in" to preclearance oversight, which is exactly what could happen here.

Meanwhile, with the start of early voting less than 2 weeks away, what does this mean for this year's general election.


Well, that's where it gets fun. Judge Ramos, in her ruling (full baby here) failed to tell the state of Texas what to do, which leads to AG Strangeabbott "seeking guidance," while hoping his guidance-seeking lets him run out the clock on the election. Per friend Perry, a piece by Think Progress spells out how that might happen.

Abbott was going to appeal to the Fifth Circuit anyway. But, he needs to know whether to appeal immediately, or whether he can stop sweating.

Per my top link, Dunn says Abbott needs to get on the express train:
We expect Judge Ramos to issue an order formally blocking enforcement of the Texas voter ID law within the next few days. Greg Abbott has already announced that he will appeal her ruling and ask the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals to reverse her order. After the 5th Circuit rules, the case will almost certainly be appealed to the US Supreme Court. It would not surprise me if both the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court issues rulings on this matter in next ten days.
Getcha popcorn! Yet more, including the likelihood of Texas' No. 1 waster of taxpayer money losing again with the Supreme Court, from the Morning News.

Meanwhile, this is "fun" for those of us who are newspaper editors as well as bloggers.

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