As expected, the Federal District Court in Corpus Christi has found that the Texas voter I.D. law is an unconstitutional burden on the voting rights of minority voters and constitutes a poll tax.
As further expected, the court’s decision also finds that the State intentionally discriminated against minority voters. As a result, the court indicates that it will issue additional orders following a status conference.
I expect that the State will need to do preclearance submissions pursuant to the terms of a court order under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act for at least the foreseeable future.
Gosh, I hope the Elections Division at the Texas Secretary of State kept all of its Section 5 paperwork, file cabinets, file shelves, and materials for preclearance submissions. It’d be a shame if they had to start up again from scratch.
And, as expected, Greg Abbott has invoked “voter confusion” as the impetus for seeking a quick suspension of the decision from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (also known as The Worst Circuit).
By the way, doesn’t it strike you as a bit … conflict of interest-ish … for an actively campaigning candidate for governor to ask a federal court for political favors on the eve of an election?
Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court (in reversing the 7th Circuit order that reinstated Wisconsin’s voter i.d. law) signals that at least a majority of the justices still adhere to the traditional common-law doctrine that courts should not impose last minute judicial orders affecting voting.
Rick Hasen and others refer to this as the “Purcell” doctrine, a shorthand reference to a 2006 Arizona voting case, Purcell v. Gonzalez, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a last-minute injunction against enforcement of an Arizona voter i.d. law.
Whether this cuts for or against Texas remains to be seen, although I tend to agree with Justin Levitt that the 147-page decision in Veasey v. Perry is “Purcell-proofed.” It isn’t a spur-of-the-moment injunction of the sort that was disapproved of in Purcell – (1) it’s a thoroughly vetted and fact-heavy decision on the merits following a lengthy trial, and (2) it does not impose any resource-intensive or difficult change to an existing process, but merely relieves the State of an existing administrative burden. At this point, a court order reimposing the Texas voter i.d. requirement would look more suspect from a Purcell-based analysis.
Here are the links, for those of you using web readers:
http://electionlawblog.org/?p=66613 (I cited Justin Levitt’s blog entry twice, because I liked it so much).