Friday, November 30, 2012

Greg Abbott: Hurry up with our VRA challenge

Michael Li:

Lawyers for the Justice Department and intervenors in the Texas voter ID case told the court yesterday that the court should put off consideration of Texas’ claim that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional until the Supreme Court decides the pending Shelby County v. Holder case next year.

That case involves a challenge to the statute by Shelby County, Alabama, contending that Congress acted without sufficient evidence in 2006 in extending section 5 coverage for another 25 years and that the formula for determining what states and sub-divisions are subject to section 5 is outdated.

Money shot:

The State of Texas disagreed and told the court that it should go ahead and decide the constitutional question being raised in the Texas case or otherwise its voter ID law “will be stuck in limbo until the end of the current Supreme Court term.” 

So it would seem to me that the Republicans in the Lege would be working on a revised Voter ID bill for 2013 -- a less onerous one, that comes closer to passing legal muster -- as a Plan B to an adverse ruling, except that the last sentence in the second excerpt suggests that the conservatives have all of their eggs rotting in one basket. Perhaps the timeline for a decision from the court is such that a Plan B could still be pulled out of a drawer in the coming session.

In a response to this question on his FB page, Li states: "there does not seem to be any major move to revisit the law".

This kind of 'all in' gamble by Greg Abbott, considering his track record with the feds, would surprise me... if I weren't already convinced of his stupidity. Then again, maybe it's the GOP legislators who are dumb. And the question becomes moot if we learn in the coming weeks that they are quietly working on something in case they lose in court.

But if Li is correct, and the court either denies Abbott's request or accepts it and rules against the state later, then without some alternative legislation offered in the coming session... Voter ID would be dead until 2015.

That would have to be the most favorable outcome for voting rights and democracy one could hope for. As always when it comes to the judges, the lawyers, the OAG, and the GOP in the Lege, we'll have to wait and see what develops.

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