Federal courts have determined that Texas's voter ID law, SB 5, targets people of color for discrimination not once, not twice, but three times since 2011. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi, who first ruled against the law in 2014 and then again earlier this year, was in the process of considering whether a "fix" to the law passed by state lawmakers last year would sufficiently remedy the law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Justice Department wrote to assure Ramos everything was on the up-and-up now and she should end all challenges to SB 5, writes the Dallas News:
Federal officials say changes made to the original 2011 measure during this year's legislative session are "constitutionally and legally valid." [...]
In its brief, the department said Ramos should cancel an interim fix the state had agreed to before last year's presidential election and allow implementation of the revamped voter ID law without further penalties. That remedy was meant to address the law's biggest discriminatory effects.
The department said the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asked the state to provide a legislative fix to solve issues with the law, which the state had achieved. Therefore, "there is no basis for an exercise of federal judicial remedial power where a legislative body already has fixed the violation."
Texas's law was by far one of the most sweeping voter ID laws passed in the nation, listing seven acceptable forms of photo ID that clearly preference some voters over others. State-issued gun licenses, for instance, are acceptable while student IDs are not.
The notion that the same lawmakers who passed the original law are capable of passing a legitimate fix to SB 5 is suspect on its face, but the endorsement of Jeff Sessions' DOJ should add an extra layer of suspicion.
The suit’s plaintiffs were not impressed with the remedy.
"At its core, SB 5 maintains the same unexplained picking and choosing of 'acceptable' photo IDs for in-person voting — accepting IDs disproportionately held by Anglo voters and rejecting IDs disproportionately held by minority voters — that led the Court, in part, to its discriminatory intent finding," plaintiffs wrote.
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