Clip from the HBO show Newsroom s01e10. Will McAvoy commenting on the tea party’s movement to enact voter ID laws.
Clip from the HBO show Newsroom s01e10. Will McAvoy commenting on the tea party’s movement to enact voter ID laws.
I’m a bit late reporting this…
The Supreme Court has thrown out lower court rulings that blocked a Texas voter identification law and the state’s political redistricting plans as discriminatory.
The court’s action Thursday was a predictable result of its major ruling two days earlier that effectively ended the federal government’s strict supervision of elections in Texas and other states with a history of discrimination in voting.
The justices ordered lower courts to reconsider in light of Tuesday’s ruling.
In both the voter ID and redistricting cases, the court stopped the state from putting in place the laws under the advance approval requirement of the Voting Rights Act.
The court has said that part of the law cannot be used unless Congress develops a new formula for determining which states and localities should be covered.
It appears that Judge Robert Simpson’s ruling might just be a band-aid for the law’s many problems. Apparently voters don’t have to show ID but the poll worker can still ask for it!
Sounds like a quick-fix that may be filled with confusion and dismay on election day.
A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday postponed the enforcement of the state’s new strict voter ID requirement until after the November presidential election.
In a much-anticipated ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. ordered that voters without government-issued photo ID should be allowed to cast regular ballots.
“That’s a huge win,” said Witold J. Walczak, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, “because last week the judge was suggesting that he was going to have every [voter without ID] vote provisionally.”
At the same time, the judge specifically ruled to allow the state to continue its education and advertising campaign, which currently tells voters that IDs are required.
Walczak said that if the state doesn’t change that message, “we may be back in court.”
“You can’t be telling people you need ID if you’re not actually requiring ID,” he said. “That advertising has to be modified to reflect reality.”
“Confusion is not a good thing on election day,” he said. “Confusion is going to mean some voters stay home. Confusion is going to mean that some poll workers get it wrong.”
Matthew Keeler, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania secretary of state, said the state is “pleased because the law itself hasn’t changed. What’s going on is there’s a soft rollout for the general election, just like the primary.”
Voters will still be asked for ID, he noted. If they don’t have it, they’ll be given information on how to get it.
As for the advertising campaign, “we’re looking into what needs to be updated,” Keeler said. “To completely take that away, would just muddle the area, as it were.”
“We’ll work on fixing things if we think they need to be fixed,” Keeler added.
Opponents of the law had expressed fears that it could dissuade or prevent tens of thousands of mostly poor, elderly, young or infirm citizens from voting.
Simpson’s injunction “will have the effect of extending the express transition provisions of [the new law] through the general election,” the judge wrote. That means that, just like during the primary election, voters will be asked for ID but still be allowed to vote if they don’t have it.
The law as passed by the Republican legislature and signed by the Republican governor had only allowed people without ID to cast “provisional” ballots, which would be thrown out unless they returned with ID within six days.
The Pennsyvlania legislature is one of several that, after Republicans took control in 2010, passed legislation to make it harder, rather than easier, to vote.
The voter ID bills, like similar moves to restrict voter registration, eliminate early voting, purge voter rolls and send pollwatchers into minority precincts. All are ostensibly intended to prevent voter fraud, an almost nonexistent problem according to research on the issue. In contrast, such moves have a disproportionate effect on minorities and young voters, and ultimately serve to block legitimate but probably Democratic voters from exercising their constitutional rights.
Simpson’s new decision comes six weeks after he upheld the entire law as is.
His initial ruling dealt mostly with whether the General Assembly had the authority to establish such voting requirements. Simpson decided it did — basing his decision in part on a bigoted and discredited 19th century state court decision.
Opponents of the law appealed, and Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court sent the case backto Simpson, this time ordering him to rule on the practical side of things, namely: Was the state upholding the law’s procedures for deployment of ID cards such that there would be “no voter disenfranchisement” as a result?
The high court’s order seemed designed to force the judge to enjoin the law, given that the state had stipulated it wasn’t following the exact procedures set out in the law and that so many registered voters clearly still lacked ID.
Witnesses last week movingly described the many frustrating barriers faced by the elderly and infirm in particular in their attempts to get ID.
But on Thursday, Simpson indicated that he would let “the good parts” of the bill stand.
Someone please explain this to me: How in the hell did the Tea Party turn into an intimidation , extortion and revenge organization?
They’re talking about “exacting revenge” on a group of State Supreme Court Justices who didn’t think that voter intimidation was just and decided to send the case back to the lower court and commented that the law should be suspended immediately.
Who are these people and what do they really want from us, in addition to getting the “black guy” out of office?
Earlier this week, every single sitting Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice rejecteda lower court decision allowing that state’s voter ID law to take effect. Four justices joined a majority opinion requiring the lower court judge to look at the case again due to concerns that voters were unable to obtain the IDs they were supposed to have easy access to as a matter of law, and two more justices joined a dissent arguing that the law should simply be suspended right away. Three of the justices in the majority were Republicans.
Nevertheless, a Tea Party group is now threatening to exact revenge upon the state supreme court for refusing to uphold a law that prevents many low-income, student and minority voters from casting a ballot:
A Philadelphia-area tea party group says it will work to defeat two state Supreme Court justices next year if the state’s new voter identification law isn’t in effect for the Nov. 6 election.
The Independence Hall Tea Party on Thursday also criticized the court’s decision to send a legal challenge to the law back for a lower court review.
It called the decision “a cowardly move” to “punt the ball.”
Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a Republican, and Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, are each finishing a 10-year term in January 2014.
These kinds of campaigns of vengeance against justices who place the law ahead of conservative’s policy preferences are increasingly common. Two years ago, a Florida Tea Party group launched a similar revenge campaign after the Florida Supreme Court kept an unconstitutional ballot initiative attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act off the state ballot. Similarly, anti-gay groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a successful effort to remove three Iowa supreme court justices because they had the audacity to recognize that the state’s constitution does not permit discrimination against gay couples.
As a recent Center for American Progress report explains, corporate interest groups have alsospent big money to stack state judiciaries with friendly judges and justices. In one of the most egregious cases, a West Virginia coal baron spent $3 million to buy a seat on the state supreme court for a justice who later went on to strike down a $50 million verdict against his company, although the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the bought-and-paid-for justice should have recused himself.
Was there ever any doubt?
Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters.
In remarks to the NAACP in Houston, the attorney general said the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”
Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them – and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.”
“We call those poll taxes,” Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.
The 24th amendment to the constitution made that type of tax illegal.
Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls.
Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.
“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said.
Holder said the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”
“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.
The attorney general spoke at the 103rd convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is launching a battle against new state voter ID laws. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous has likened the fight against conservative-backed voter ID laws passed in several states to “Selma and Montgomery times,” referring to historic Alabama civil rights confrontations of the mid-1960s.
Holder, the first black man named U.S. Attorney General, was received with resounding applause, a standing ovation and chants of “Holder, Holder, Holder” at the convention.
Those chants quickly changed to “stand your ground, stand your ground,” a reference to a Florida law that neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is using to defend fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager he encountered while patrolling his community in February. Police did not initially arrest or charge Zimmerman, saying the “stand your ground” law allowed self-defense. He was later charged with second-degree murder.
Holder said the Justice Department under his leadership has taken unprecedented steps to study and prevent violence against youth and address the high homicide rate among young black men.
Finally, the attorney general noted with pride that the U.S. Supreme Court in two recent rulings regarding President Barack Obama’s health care law and immigration laws passed in Arizona, largely supported the federal government and the Department of Justice. However, he said, he remained concerned that Arizona law enforcement, under the portion of the law upheld by the court, would be able to check the immigration status of any person suspected of being in the United States illegally.
“No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” Holder said.