By a vote of 6-3 The Supreme Court is allowing Texas’ draconian voter ID law to be enforced for this year’s election.
According to Scotusblog, this is the first time since 1982, the Supreme Court allowed enforcement of a restrictive voting law after a Federal Court ruled the law is unconstitutional.
In a blistering six page dissent Justice Ginsberg, joined by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor said,
“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,”
Much of Ginsberg’s critique coincided with the federal court’s reasoning and conclusions that the law was a result of intentional discrimination, it violated the Voting Rights Act and it violates the Twenty-Fourth Amendment because the fees required to get a valid ID constitute a poll tax.
The dissenting Justices estimated that 600,000 Texas voters, or 4.5% of all registered voters, will be disenfranchised and a “sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.”
Aside from the discrimination against racial minorities, this law will disenfranchise married women in Texas. In fact, Sandra Watts, a Texas judge got caught in this net during a local election last year. The name on her driver’s license was the same for 52 years. The address on her voter registration card and driver’s license remained the same for twenty years. But, during that election, voting officials told her that she would have to sign a voter’s affidavit that she was she said she was. You’ll just love the reason. Per Texas law, the Judge’s maiden name is her middle name. However, her voter registration shows her actual middle name.
This feature of the law is likely to disenfranchise a lot more women in the same situation and because the costs involved are prohibitive for women earning low incomes. As explained by Judge Ginsburg in her dissent,
A voter whose birth certificate lists her maiden name or misstates her date of birth may be charged $37 for the amended certificate she needs to obtain a qualifying ID. Texas voters born in other States may be required to pay substantially more than that.
If anyone still doubts the significance of the Supreme Court ruling that gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, this law is a direct consequence of that ruling. The fact is this law failed pre-clearance when section 5 was still in effect.
Here is where things stand now. This law will be in force for this year’s election.
The fifth circuit will consider the case and issue it’s ruling. Then, the law will probably be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
It’s a sad day when the Supreme Court allows to stand an unconstitutional law that makes a mockery of the principle of free and fair elections.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.