On Monday, a U.S. District Court heard closing arguments in the case that challenges the most militant and vicious vote suppression law in America. Various groups including The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice, the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives were joined by the Department of Justice and private organizations in a consolidation of challenges to this heinous vote suppression law.
Opponents of Texas’ vote suppression law pointed to hard evidence that the law will disenfranchise 600,000 Texas voters. Adding insult to injury, taxpayers are paying for this court battle with tax dollars. Some of those taxpayers are the very people Greg Abbott is fighting to disenfranchise.
The Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under the Law is one of the parties challenging the vote suppression law. Their lawyer, Ezra Rosenberg, pointed to hard numbers that prove this law will disenfranchise 600,000 racial minority voters in Texas.
The statistics reveal:
- .Blacks and Hispanics are between 1.6 times to 4 times less likely than Whites to have SB 14 ID, and
- Approximately 4% of all registered voters, or approximately 600,000 registered voters, lack SB 14 ID.
While the stats show the adverse effect on racial minorities is extreme, that in itself doesn’t prove there was a discriminatory intent behind the law. Since racial minorities overwhelmingly vote Democrat, there could be wiggle room for Abbott’s claim that this law is about partisan based discrimination and vote suppression.
However, Rosenberg took care of that problem with six witnesses from the legislature who testified to the discriminatory intent of the law.
When you consider this evidence along with the fact that Republican lawmakers opposed proposed amendments that would have broadened the list of acceptable ID, it’s all but impossible for a court to accept that disenfranchising so many voters is really about protecting the integrity of the vote. More so, when you consider that in person voter fraud is statistically non-existent in Texas and in every other state.
Abbott concedes that this law suppresses the vote. He insists the discriminatory intent is based on party preference rather than race and besides it’s justified to stop voter fraud. Even though there is a great chance of seeing an UFO than an occurrence of in person voter fraud.
He did try to bring in the Koch backed True the Vote to spin a story about rampant voter fraud , but the court wouldn’t have it.
Greg Abbott did not produce a single legislative proponent of the law to substantiate his claim about the legislative intent perhaps because he couldn’t find someone willing to lie to the court.
It’s possible that Abbott remains confident that when the Supreme Court gutted the strongest deterrent against raced based vote suppression, it gave the Republicans a license to suppress votes by minorities. Abbot might have believed that he can hoodwink the courts into believing that the indisputably adverse effect of this law on minority voters is just a coincidence when the discrimination in this law is purely on partisan grounds. Sure, and I believe in the tooth fairy too!
The combination of stats and testimony by witnesses from the legislature who are in a position to know why Republican lawmakers were so determined to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Texans makes it difficult for Abbott to spin or charm his way around the evidence. He can’t rely on the court deferring to an honorable legislature because of that testimony. He can’t claim that there is a state interest because the law intends to stop in person voter fraud, where in person voter fraud is statistically non-existent. The best he had was the manufactured numbers that True the Vote was sure to provide. However, the court saw through that maneuver.
The fact that True the Vote tried to intervene at the last minute shows even Abbott recognizes he was overly confident that the court would just take him at his word.
The court, located in Corpus Christi, gave no indication of when it expects to issue its ruling in this case.
Image: Media Matters