No mere historical artifact

From October 18, the New York Times story on the stealthy SCOTUS ruling allowing Texas’s Jim Crowesque voter ID law in the next election.

The Supreme Courton Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court’s order,issued just after 5 a.m., was unsigned and contained no reasoning.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

It has a history, that kind of thing. It’s not an accident, it’s not just some random idea that occurred to the Texas legislators one day out of the blue. There’s a long post-Civil War post-Reconstruction history of coming up with ways to make it much more difficult for black people to vote. There were those “tests” that for some strange reason were not administered to white people, that asked questions so arcane and difficult that no one would know the answer. There were the poll taxes. There were the KKK cruising the roads that led from the plantations to the polling places.

Those requirements, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

“A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic,” she added, adding that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”

This kind of tap dancing was made illegal by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but then there was that other Supreme Court ruling last year…

The Texas law was at first blocked under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedure. After the Supreme Court in 2013 effectively struck down Section 5 in Shelby County v. Holder, an Alabama case, Texas officials announced that they would start enforcing the ID law.

Amid squeals of joy and triumph.

The law has been challenged by an array of individuals, civil rights groups and the Obama administration.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. released a statement Saturday criticizing the outcome.

“It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate,” he said. “It is true we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully.”

The least confusing to voters and the least…you know…racist. The least discriminatory. The least oh hai here’s an extra obstacle in the way of your voting because we have cars and you don’t, you rabble.

After a two-week trial in September, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Federal District Court in Corpus Christi struck down the law on Oct. 9 in a 147-page opinion. She said it had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax.

Two days later, Judge Ramos entered an injunction blocking the law in the current election. The question for the justices was what to do about that injunction while appeals proceed.

Greg Abbott, the state attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor, told the Supreme Court that Judge Ramos had acted too closely to the election and had “unsettled a status quo that had prevailed for 15 months and governed numerous elections without a hitch.”

Yeah! “We had successfully and without a hitch made life more difficult for voters who don’t have passports and driver’s licenses so what the hell is this Judge Ramos doing messing that up?”

Welcome back the poll tax.


  1. Pliny the in Between says

    I did a cursory review of the voting statute and the current Texas laws governing a concealed handgun permit. I may very well have missed something but the voter law mentions that a valid drivers license has to be at least 60 days away from its expiration date to be accepted at the polling place. The official Texas website does not mention this restriction as it applies to handgun permits. It may be a hidden gotcha but I didn’t see it mentioned.

    Too bad the founders never amended the Constitution to prevent abridging of voting.

  2. says

    This is one of the most bizzare ways the republicans could have devised of reaching out to the African-American and Hispanic electorate. Perhaps screaming “FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!” would have worked as well. But … ugh. Don’t they realize that the nation’s demographics are going to eat through this shit in a couple of years and then what’ll be left is the memory of this brilliant community outreach?

  3. Brony says

    2043? That’s plenty of time for the xenophobia to ramp up as the dominant group senses danger (it’s already happening). I expect it to get worse before it gets better unless we get really really good at making these people look like the racists they are. Even then that just the more reachable people becoming disgusted with what people in “their group” are doing to the group’s image. The people who are the most unattached to reality outside of social information will go out in a blaze of, well something unplesent.

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