The State of Texas: Federal Appeals Court Scraps Voter ID Law
Plus: Ted Cruz gets booed, Fort Worth ISD changes its transgender student guidelines, and San Antonio celebrates Tim Duncan Day.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There are so many sizes of heads. Round heads. Oval heads. And long ovals.”
—Kathaleen Wall, of Houston, to the Dallas Morning News. Wall is the one responsible for outfitting Texas’s GOP Convention delegation in those ubiquitous cowboy hats that have taken Cleveland by storm.
A federal appeals court struck down Texas’s voter identification law on Wednesday, ruling that the controversial law discriminates against minorities and people with low incomes. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is asking a lower court to fix it before November’s election, according to the Associated Press. The law limits the type of photo identification that can be used to vote, and is widely considered one of the strictest voter identification laws in the nation. The federal appeals court ruling upholds the previous decision of a lower court, landing the “strongest blow yet” to the law, according to the Texas Tribune. The voter ID restriction has been embroiled in controversy ever since it was signed into law by then-Governor Rick Perry in 2011. Thanks to numerous legal battles, the law didn’t actually go into effect until 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court nixed the part of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of discrimination to get the OK from the feds before making any changes to voting laws. Supporters of the law, which is backed mostly by conservative leaders, say it was put in place to prevent voter fraud and is not discriminatory. While the appeals court found that the effects of the law were discriminatory, it also said that there wasn’t enough evidence to uphold the lower court’s assertion that the actual purpose of the law was to discriminate. The court also agreed with the lower court’s ruling that the law left about 600,000 Texans without proper identification out of luck.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Boos for Cruz
To endorse Donald Trump or not to endorse Donald Trump? That was the question leading up to Ted Cruz’s highly anticipated Republican National Convention speech on Wednesday, and now we have an answer. “Vote with your conscience,” Cruz implored the crowd last night. There was no endorsement. Depending on who you ask, Cruz’s snub was either a heroic stand for true conservatism, an embarrassing addition to the already wide rift in the Republican party, or simply a transparent plug for a potential 2020 election campaign. According to CNN, Cruz only mentioned Trump’s name once, when he congratulated his arch rival near the beginning of the speech. As is usually the case when Cruz appears in public, things were very, very awkward. The crowd booed Cruz mercilessly when it became clear he wasn’t going to endorse Trump. The snub was right in front of Trump’s face, who was sitting in the audience with his family (Trump later took to Twitter, claiming Cruz didn’t honor his “pledge,” and that the speech was “no big deal”). GOP donor extraordinaire Sheldon Adelson reportedly even kicked Cruz out of his convention suite. This likely didn’t make Cruz many new friends. Still, it was pretty entertaining—in a sick, gladiator/snake pit/Hunger Games kind of way—to see Cruz throw himself to the wolves like that on national television.
Amid pressure from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, Fort Worth ISD made some small changes to its guidelines for transgender students on Wednesday. The school district’s controversial transgender friendly bathroom policy will remain in place, but the new set of guidelines is about four pages shorter than the original, and they no longer include a provision that prevented school staff from outing transgender students to their parents, according to the Texas Tribune. Parent involvement was the legal heart of the state’s ongoing court battle against Fort Worth ISD’s guidelines, and Paxton issued an opinion that said the schools couldn’t withhold such information from parents. The changes came after months of town hall sessions and public meetings in Fort Worth after Patrick stoked outrage over the district’s non-discriminatory bathroom policy. While supporters of the original guidelines downplayed the changes, Patrick and Paxton both claimed this moment as a big win, according to the Tribune.
Day of Tim
San Antonio will celebrate the career of Spurs legend Tim Duncan today, July 21, which Mayor Ivy Taylor has declared “Tim Duncan Day,” according to Sports Illustrated. The festivities, so far, consist mostly of discounted goods. McDonald’s is selling 21-piece chicken nuggets instead of 20-piece boxes (Duncan’s jersey number was 21), an animal shelter is offering $21 pet adoptions, and you’ll be able to get 21-cent breakfast tacos and 21-cent bean-and-cheese tacos from two local restaurants. San Antonio’s city hall revealed the big day’s banner on Wednesday. It’s fittingly minimalist: “Thank you, Tim” written in white text on black background, with a big number 21. The celebration is certainly a nice gesture, but it’s probably meant more for the reclusive forward’s fans.“Tim may not be comfortable with all the attention, but I do think he deserves it,” Taylor told KSAT. If San Antonio wanted to throw an authentic party for Duncan, it would probably just consist of a bunch of people at home alone reading a book.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Harris County prosecutors threw a rape victim in jail for crying while testifying against her attacker KHOU
A North Texas man who had the nation’s first face transplant may have suffered a setback NBCDFW
What life is like for a death row inmate in Texas, in his own words Gawker
This Texas Tech lineman downs 5,000 calories a day SB Nation
A rare white lion cub was born at an East Texas zoo Lufkin Daily News