Friday, October 10, 2014

Texas Voter Suppression Law Struck Down Again

Last night we Texans received some wonderful news with early voting scheduled to start on October 20. 

After hearing three weeks of testimony, the odious Texas Voter suppression law was declared unconstitutional (well, duh)  in a ruling by US District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi.

FYI, she was appointed  to the federal bench by President Obama , so here's another example of elections mattering and why you butt needs to be bumrushing the polls in this and EVERY election cycle .

Back to your regularly scheduled blogpost.  

This wasn't the first time SB 14 has run afoul of the VRA and the Constitution.   The odious Shelby County v. Holder SCOTUS ruling weakening the preclearance provision of the VRA gave Texas Atty Gen. Greg Abbott his opportunity to implement one of the toughest in the country voter suppression laws.

Judge Ramos equated the unjust law, which passed the Texas Legislature in 2011 and has been in effect since last year, to the poll taxes of the Jim Crow-era South that were used to hinder minorities’ ability to cast ballots.

“The Court holds that S.B. 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’ opinion said. “The Court further holds that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.”

Judge Ramos ruling drew swift commentary from both sides of the political aisle. As Greg Abbott through a spokesperson promised to quickly appeal it to the conservafool leaning US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Democrats and liberal progressive people hailed the ruling.

“As our former President Lyndon B. Johnson once said: ‘It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country,’” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.

“This ruling affirms what Democrats have known all along, the Republican majority in the Texas Legislature deliberately passed a voter/photo ID law to disenfranchise Texas voters based on race,” he continued. “Texas has a long history of voter discrimination. This ruling is a step in the right direction to ensure that all Texas voters have an equal voice at the ballot box.”.

Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe said: “We are greatly encouraged by today’s decision. This decision vindicates what African American and Latino leaders have been saying since this law was first proposed, that it discriminates against minority voters and was designed to do just that.

"This is great news for democracy. I call on Attorney General Greg Abbott to drop his defense of a law that a court has now called a 'poll tax' and 'discriminatory' against African-Americans and Hispanics."  said State Sen. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston: "Texas has a long and sad history of making it difficult for people to vote. Elected officials repeatedly used the law to keep people out of the voting booth. Decades later, history rightly judges those men and women in a harsh light. As the court ruled, the voter ID law is essentially a modern day poll tax and has the same effect as other laws used in decades past to keep scores of lawful, legal Americans from voting. It was wrong then, it is wrong now, and I'm pleased the court stood up to protect the right to vote for all Texans."

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio: “This ruling is a major victory for our caucus, voting rights advocates across the country, and most importantly, for Texas voters and the fight for free and fair elections in our state. Since last summer's Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down the preclearance formula of the Voting Rights Act, we have seen a wave of voter suppression legislation aimed to curb minority voting strength in states across the country.

"We are extremely heartened by the court's decision, which affirms our position that the Texas voter identification law unfairly and unnecessarily restricts access to the franchise,"  US Atty Gen Eric Holder said in a statement released Thursday night. "Even after the Voting Rights Act was seriously eroded last year, we vowed to continue enforcing the remaining portions of that statute as aggressively as possible. This ruling is an important vindication of those efforts."

Let's just hope SB 14 stays dead, at least through November 4

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