Society

Court: Texas Voter Law Discriminates Against Minorities

| by Ray Brown

A federal judge ruled April 10 that a Texas voter ID law passed in 2011 discriminated against blacks and Latinos.

The ruling raised the possibility that more state voter ID laws and other election procedures could be put under further scrutiny by the federal government, according to The New York Times.

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that Texas' voter ID law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. This was the second time Gonzales has reviewed the case after she ruled against it in 2014, but was asked by an appeals court to review it once more due to a technicality.

"Because the Fifth Circuit found that some of the evidence in this case was not probative of a discriminatory purpose in the Texas Legislature’s enactment of SB 14, this Court was tasked with re-examining its conclusion on the discriminatory purpose issue," Gonzales wrote in her opinion. "Upon reconsideration and a re-weighing of the evidence in conformity with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, the Court holds that the evidence found 'infirm' did not tip the scales."

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The judge said there was "evidence of a pattern, unexplainable on grounds other than race," that had a discriminatory effect on black and Latino voters and succeeded in prohibiting them from voting.

"For instance, amendments were proposed to allow additional types of photo identification, a more liberal policy on expired documents, easier voter registration procedures, reduced costs for obtaining necessary ID, and more voter education regarding the requirements," she wrote, according to Talking Points Memo.

Gonzales' ruling was praised by voting rights advocates.

"This is an exciting ruling, but it is no surprise," said Myrna Perez, a deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which represented two of the groups that sued the state, the Texas NAACP and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, according to the New York Times.

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"Texas passed the most restrictive photo ID law in the country -- a law the legislators knew would hurt minority voting rights, without any evidence justifying it, and they broke all sorts of legislative rules and norms to do it," Perez said.

Marc Rylander, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who brought forth the appeal, denounced the ruling.

"We’re disappointed and will seek review of this ruling at the appropriate time," he said, according to The New York Times.

Sources: The New York Times, Talking Points Memo / Photo Credit: Scazon/Flickr

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