Federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled today that the Texas voter identification law was passed with the specific intent to discriminate against Black and Latino voters.
According to the New York Times, Ramos cited that the 2011 law is a direct violation of the federal Voting Rights Act in that it was conceived for discriminatory purposes. Ramos had previously ruled against the law, but her initial ruling was appealed by the state of Texas. The decision handed down today is a reiteration of her earlier ruling after being asked to review her decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
The state was sued by a combination of lawmakers, racial justice groups, and other advocates who complain that legislators departed from procedural norms to bypass the committee process and rush revisions through, likely knowing then that the legislation wouldn’t pass muster in courts.
Republicans’ initial impetus for passing the law in 2011 was to combat voter fraud, by requiring Texans show photo ID at the voting booth in order to prevent in-person voter fraud from occurring. However, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) aptly noted that more people are struck by lightning than commit in-person voter fraud in a given election. Politifact evaluated his statement and backed up his claims.
Ramos made it very clear that she maintained her resolve on the issue in her ruling on Monday.
“Upon reconsideration and a reweighing of the evidence in conformity with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, the court holds that the evidence found ‘infirm’ did not tip the scales,” said Ramos.
Texas is required by the federal government to get approval before attempting any revisions to voting laws, but according to the Nation, the Trump administration has reversed its opposition, withdrawing the claim that the law puts Black and Latino voters in jeopardy.
Ramos did not make it clear whether or not she would order the state back under federal supervision, but it’s evident that Texas Republicans are utilizing every tool at their disposal to sustain their grip in a state where the Democratic Black and Latino population is threatening to overwhelm them in future elections. As early as 2013, NPR predicted that growing Hispanic voting rates meant that the once-solid Republican bastion could flip by 2020.
Steven E. Johnson is a Mississippi-based author who covers racial justice and political issues for the Resistance Report. You can contact him at stevejlive at gmail dot com.