Political Animal


August 30, 2012 4:40 PM Voting Rights Tempest

By Ed Kilgore

So another shoe drops in the brewing judicial tempest over voting rights: a three-court panel of federal district judges in DC ruled unanimously that Texas’s new voter ID law does not pass muster under the Section 5 review required by the Voting Right Act. Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog has a good summary:

[T]he court concludes that Texas, which bears the burden of proof in a section 5 case, cannot prove its law won’t make the position of protected minorities worse off. And the court suggests this was a problem of its own making: Texas could have made the i.d. law less onerous (as in Georgia, which the court suggests DOJ was probably right to preclear) and Texas could have done more to produce evidence supporting its side at trial, but it engaged in bad trial tactics.

Now Texas will appeal to the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of the ruling so that it can use its new Voter ID system on November 6, but it’s unlikely the Court would overturn a finding of fact without some deliberations. On a separate track, Texas has asked the District Court to consider the constitutionality of Section 5—a subject already certain to make its way to the Supremes from several directions. It’s worth remembering that in a separate decision earlier this week, a DC District Court panel struck down Texas’ congressional and state legislative redistricting for this cycle on Section 5 grounds, though it probably won’t keep the new lines from being used on November 6.

This all points to a “landmark decision” by the Supreme Court on various voting rights issues early next year. Look out, voters!

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • sick-n-effn-tired. on August 30, 2012 4:49 PM:

    They all suffer from the same syndrome They are always shocked when they install a democracy in a Muslim country and low and behold the Muslim majority....wait for it.... elects a Muslim majority government. If you allow people in this country to vote willy nilly they might elect Democrats .
    We can't have any of that now can we?

  • Peter C on August 30, 2012 5:32 PM:

    More electoral cheating from the Republican party. What a surprise! (not)

  • T2 on August 30, 2012 5:42 PM:

    the game plan is getting pretty obvious now. TeaParty Conservative state governments pass wildly crazy laws which eventually end up in the Conservative Supreme Court where they are then declared Constitutional. Do it enough and the US becomes the Conservative United States of America. That's why they went bonkers when Roberts threw the monkey wrench into the ACA law. But they'll keep whacking away at our liberties - all in the name of our liberty.

  • c u n d gulag on August 30, 2012 6:25 PM:

    The SCOTUS will without a doubt uphold voters rights.

    If they're the "right" voters.

    Goodbye, CRA's of '64 and '65...

    Hello, Jim and Juan Crow!

  • zandru on August 30, 2012 8:16 PM:

    So what's it been? Close to 150 years that these "pre-clearance states" have had to do the right thing - and they've steadfastly refused, year after year after year. Now many have been asking to be let off the list, because of how long they've been on it.

    Clearly, they're still on it for good reason.