I was gratified today to open up my computer and see the news that a federal judge in Corpus Christi has struck down Texas’s voter ID law. In past years, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of Voter ID laws, most notably in the Indiana case of 2008’s Crawford vs. Marion County, and in 2013 it struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, meaning that a number of states, including Texas, would no longer be subject to federal preclearance before changing voting rules. As the Brennan Center notes, the state announced that the voter ID law would be implemented on the day Shelby County was decided.
There has never been any doubt in my mind, though, that Voter ID is all about voter suppression, notwithstanding Greg Abbott’s claims to the contrary. Anyone who sat through the heated Senate debate on the subject in 2011 could not have failed to get it, and people following this issue since then may have been influenced by the widely noticed recanting by distinguished jurist Richard Posner–who wrote the majority opinion in the circuit court’s decision on the Indiana case in 2007, but wrote last year that such laws are now “widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” The opinion from the Corpus Christi judge, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, makes a strong case against Voter ID as well (PDF), calling it “an unconstitutional poll tax.”
None of this can be good news for the attorney general, who reacted to yesterday’s ruling by promising to appeal it to the Fifth Circuit. He may find the Fifth Circuit more receptive than Judge Gonzales Ramos–who is, as Republicans were quick to note, an Obama appointee–but he is facing likely defeats in future cases concerning same-sex marriage and redistricting. His best shot at a win is the school finance case before the Texas Supreme Court. He’ll probably win that one. The Court is in the tank for the state, but then what do you expect from a body that consists primarily of judges appointed by Rick Perry.