AG Greg Abbot has got his hackles up and the fight against the actions by the DOJ to stop the Texas Voter ID law may well be heard and ruled on by the Supreme Court before the end of this session or in the Fall.
From Election Law Blog, Texas Ups Ante in Its Voter ID Case, Says Voting Rights Act is Unconstitutional:
Texas filed an amended complaint today [UPDATE, actually Tuesday] in its action to overcome the US Department of Justice’s objection to its voter identification law. The complaint now says that the Voting Rights Act section 5, as amended in 2006, “exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and conflicts with Article IV of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.”
This is a very big deal.
I concur. The VRA’s egregious section 5 has ceased to serve as a tool of justice, but instead as a bludgeon for political agendas while denying states their sovereignty.
There is good reason to believe the VRA sec. 5 might well be deemed unconstitutional by the Supremes, well, at least 5 of them.
Back in January, a three judge SCOTUS panel ruled that the San Antonio federal district court improperly redrew the redistricting maps that the Texas legislature had drawn. The San Antonio court was ordered by the Supremes to reconsider the original maps and on February 29, a deal was struck and the Texas redistricting maps were approved with minor changes.
In the unsigned January ruling Justice Clarence Thomas was very clear in expressing his view on the VRA’s sec. 5:
“In my view,” Thomas wrote in a two-page concurrence, “Texas’ failure to timely obtain Section 5 preclearance of its new plans is no obstacle to their implementation, because, as I have previously explained, Section 5 is unconstitutional.”
“Covered jurisdictions are not now engaged in a systematic campaign to deny black citizens access to the ballot through intimidation and violence,” Thomas wrote. “The lack of sufficient evidence that the covered jurisdictions currently engage in the type of discrimination that underlay the enactment of Section 5 undermines any basis for retaining it.”
Though Congress just reauthorized Section 5 until 2031, the provision may be facing certain death at the Supreme Court. The majority opinion in the 2009 case signaled the justices’ willingness to retire Section 5.
In Friday’s ruling on the Texas district maps, the Supreme Court referenced its 2009 decision about the “serious constitutional questions raised by Section 5′s intrusion on state sovereignty.”
The 2009 ruling referenced skirted the constitutionality of VRA sec. 5, but with this filing by the state of Texas, this unnecessary intrusion on state’s rights will have a ten ring painted on it.
Also, there is precedent in the SCOTUS for upholding Voter ID law, though it wasn’t concerning a state covered by the antiquated provisions of sec. 5.
Supreme Court upholds voter ID law:
“We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” Stevens said.
Stevens’ opinion suggests that the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.
Without sec. 5, the bludgeon for distorting public policy decisions in our beloved state will be a thing of the past.