Texas Voter ID Law Allowed By Supreme Court, And Here's Why You Should Be Worried
In a distressing and somewhat surprising move Saturday, the Supreme Court refused to block Texas' new ID law for the upcoming November election — even after a lower federal court had ruled the atrocious law unconstitutional. What this means? Now that nothing's going to stop the law from being enforced, roughly 600,000 registered voters will likely be unable to cast ballots in the state.
A quick recap: SB14, one of the toughest voter ID laws in the U.S., requires every single voter to show a photo ID to cast a ballot — which sounds like no big, except when you factor in that only seven types of photo identifications will be accepted, and many of these are hard to come by (student IDs, for example, don't count). Especially if you're African American, Hispanic, or a woman. You know, all the people more likely to vote blue.
Just last week, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down the ID requirement, calling the law a "burden on the right to vote" that had "an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." The law was blocked, and it looked like Texas' elections might end up representing the whole community, instead of just a select few.
But then, as might have been expected, Ramos' decision was immediately appealed. In a matter of days, the issue was taken up by SCOTUS, where Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that Ramos' decision had "unsettled a status quo" — basically, that it was too late in the game to change the rules. Blocking the voter ID law so close to the election, in other words, would mess with the voting process.
On Saturday, the Supreme Court appeared to have agreed with Abbott's argument, though their order to overturn Ramos' ruling was unsigned, and contained no reasoning. All we know for sure is that three justices weren't on board: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The three wrote in a six-page dissent:
The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.
Of course, a major effect of the law will be on the high profile gubernatorial elections in Texas, where Abbot is facing off with Democrat Wendy Davis to replace Governor Rick Perry. It's hard to ignore the fact that it's those who would vote Democrat, or vote Davis — low-income voters, women, and minorities — that are being shunted by SB14.
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