Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Politics: SCOTUS Allows Texas' Unabashedly Racist Voter Suppression Law To Go Into Effect

As I discussed last Saturday, the politics of who will vote is becoming increasingly salient as Election Day 2014 approaches. Today, the bad guys won a big one when the Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote (boys against girls) decided to allow Texas's new voter suppression identification law go into effect for the 2014 election while the federal courts consider the law on its merits, even though a federal judge has already declared that the 2011 law intentionally has a disparate impact on minorities.
A divided Supreme Court handed a big defeat to the Obama administration and numerous civil rights groups early Saturday morning when it ruled that Texas can enforce its 2011 voter ID law in November that some have called the strictest in the country. Three justices dissented from the ruling that rejected an emergency request that had been filed by the Justice Department and civil rights groups. 
The decision appears to mark “the first time since 1982 that the Court has allowed a law restricting voters’ rights to be enforced after a federal court had ruled it to be unconstitutional,” notes Scotus Blog’s Lyle Denniston. A federal judge had struck down the law last week, saying that some 600,000 voters—mostly black or Latino—would face difficulties at the polls due to a lack of proper identification. The law, which was approved in 2011 but only came in effect in 2013 lays out seven approved forms of identification—a list many have questioned for including concealed handgun licenses but not college IDs, notes the Associated Press. 
This marked the fourth time over the last few weeks that the Supreme Court has been forced to decide whether voter ID laws passed by Republican state legislatures can be used in November. The justices voted to allow changes in Ohio and North Carolina and stopped a new law in Wisconsin. 
An article in Slate magazine by Jamelle Bouie questions whether voter identification laws are based in partisanship or racism and comes out in favor of partisanship. Regardless, the effect and impact of the enactment of voter "identification" laws is negatively impact the voting power of racial minorities.

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