A judge Monday again ruled that Republican lawmakers deliberately designed a strict voter ID law to disadvantage minorities and effectively dampen their growing electoral power.
It amounted to the second finding of intentional discrimination in Texas election laws in as many months — a separate court in March ruled that Republicans racially gerrymandered several congressional districts when drawing voting maps in 2011, the same year the voter ID rules were passed.
Neither ruling has any immediate impact. But the decisions are significant because it raises the possibility of Texas being stripped of the right to unilaterally change its election laws without federal approval. Forcing Texas to once again seek federal permission — known as “preclearance” — has been a goal of Democrats and minority rights groups since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the requirement in 2013.
NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement on Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos’ ruling that SB 14 intentionally discriminates against African-American and Latinos.
“The NAACP applauds today’s decision by Judge Gonzales Ramos holding – once again – that Texas’s current photo identification law, SB 14, was enacted with racially discriminatory intent in violation of the United States Constitution.
With the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit already having affirmed Judge Gonzales Ramos’ prior ruling that SB 14 discriminates against African-American and Latino voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, today’s decision hopefully represents the final nail in the coffin for this despicable, disenfranchising law. The Texas NAACP State Conference originally filed litigation challenging SB 14 in 2013.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to withdraw its longstanding allegation that SB 14 was enacted with racially discriminatory intent serves only to demonstrate the willingness of some public officials to play politics with the most sacred and foundational right in our democracy – the right to vote. But the NAACP and its partners will oppose most strenuously any effort to make voting more difficult for our fellow citizens, no matter what their color or political persuasion. We congratulate our Texas State Conference and its litigation partners for their steadfast and immovable advocacy.”
The NAACP and its more than 2,200 branches across the country are working to strengthen our democracy by increasing civic participation and eliminating voter suppression. The NAACP state conference leadership, national field team, as well as out branches continues direct action, voter mobilization and public education. Using our Washington Bureau and communications department, we will continue call on the millions of supporters and members of the NAACP to support our legislative efforts to combat voter suppression, including passage of the Voter Empowerment Act and Voting Rights Advancement Act. Meanwhile, our Youth and College Division continues its amazing and important work of training and equipping millennial leaders to increase the level of civic engagement in communities across the country.
The hard work of improving our democracy continues.