the supreme court said on saturday texas can use their new voter identification law for the november election. a majority of the justices rejected an emergency request from the justice department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo identification to cast their ballots.
the law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court put that ruling on hold. the judge found almost 600,000 voters - many of them black and latino - could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. early voting in texas begins monday.
the supreme court's order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations. justices ruth bader ginsburg, sonia sotomayor and elena kagan dissented. each of them said they would have left the district court decision in place.
the controversial law sets out seven forms of approved identification. the list includes concealed handgun licenses, but not college student id's, which are accepted in other states with similar legislative measures.
the 143-page opinion from u.s. district judge nelva gonzales ramos called the law an "unconstitutional burden on the right to vote." ramos also said the law is the equivalent of a poll tax: she found the republican-led texas legislature purposely discriminated against non-white voters.
ramos issued her ruling october 9. five days later, the fifth u.s. circuit court of appeals in new orleans put her decision on hold. they cited a 2006 supreme court opinion warning judges not to change the rules too close to election day.
the challengers in texas said the last time the supreme court allowed a voting law to be used in a subsequent election after it had been found unconstitutional was in 1982. that case from georgia involved an at-large election system which existed since 1911.
texas urged the supreme court to let the state enforce voter id at the polls in a court filing which took aim at the ruling by ramos, an appointee of president obama. attorney general greg abbott, a republican who's favored in the gubernatorial race, called ramos' findings "preposterous," accusing the judge of ignoring evidence favorable to the state.
the court intervened in three other disputes in recent weeks over republican-fueled restrictions on voter access. in wisconsin, the justices blocked a voter id law from being used in november. in north carolina and ohio, the justices allowed limits on early voting, provisional ballots and same-day registration to remain in, or take effect.
in june 2013, the court eliminated the heart of the voting rights act, which prevented texas and eight other states with histories of racial oppression from changing election laws without permission. critics of the texas measure said the new id requirement has not been used for congressional or senatorial elections, or a high-turnout statewide election for governor.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.