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TPM has the incendiary scoop [Judges Seem Ready To Mess With Texas’ Voter ID Law]:

In one of the more awkward exchanges, [Texas lawyer John] Hughes offered a semi-defense of literacy tests after one judge said that the reason literacy tests were racist years ago was because of inequalities in the education system. The judge asked if it was Texas’ theory that there would be a problem with literacy tests today. Setting aside other laws banning literacy tests and poll taxes, Hughes said he did not believe a literacy test would violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The crux of the DOJ's case:
The Justice Department said in court that about 1.5 million registered Texas voters don't have state-issued photo IDs, and that a disproportionate share of those voters are Hispanic or black.

TPM's Ryan Reilly reports on the courtroom closing arguments, and my Lone Star state appears to have sucked a giant lemon:

When a judge noted that some voters would have to travel 120 miles to the nearest DMV to obtain a voter ID, Hughes argued that people in those areas had to travel “long distances to do any number of things.” The judge pointed out that people who live more than 100 miles from a courtroom aren’t even allowed to be subpoenaed because it is “unduly burdensome,” but Hughes argued that traveling far distances was a “reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas.”
The DOJ called attention to the law's racial intent:
[Matthew] Colangelo, whose boss Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez listened in on a portion of closing arguments from an overflow room at the courthouse, told the judges it was important to look at the passage of the voter ID law within the context of “tremendous population growth” within Texas’ Latino community.

He argued that the bill gives discretion to poll watchers when matching individuals to names on the voter rolls and could give them “the opportunity to discriminate against Hispanics.”

“Texas has not met its burden,” Colangelo argued.

On Tuesday the court got a history lesson on Southern politics:
Some of the day’s most contentious testimony involved Morgan Kousser, a history and social science professor at the California Institute of Technology who has studied voter suppression in the post-Confederate South.

His close study of modern Texas politics has found deep polarization along ethnic lines, he said, with Democrats relying heavily on Hispanic and black voters, as Republicans depend almost entirely on white support. That, he asserted, leads Republicans to want to tamp down minority voting rights as the Hispanic population booms.

Fingers crossed, but it looks like more votes will be cast and counted this November in Texas:
The panel of federal judges — Bush nominee Rosemary M. Collyer, Clinton nominee David S. Tatel and Obama nominee Robert L. Wilkins — hopes to issue a ruling on the case in “short order,” according to Collyer, who expressed doubts about the findings of Texas’ experts in the case.

Originally posted to TXdem on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 02:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans and Southern Action.

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