Texas’ Voter ID law has been put on ice by a federal court, and only an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court can change that in time for Election Day.
Although a state judge in Pennsylvania recently gave a green light to the Keystone State’s Voter ID law, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled against a similar law in the Lone Star State.
While both states’ ID laws are similar, they’re held to very different standards under federal law. The challenge to Pennsylvania’s law was brought under Section Two of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which forbids any state from enacting laws that diminish the strength of minority voters to elect the candidate of their choice.
However, certain states with had a history of racial problems in the 1960s are subject to Section Five of the VRA, which provides that, before one of these “covered jurisdictions” can enact any change whatsoever to their voting laws, they must receive preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or a three-judge panel of judges on the U.S. District Court, with the panel comprised of one appeals judge and two trial judges.
Attorney General Eric Holder is an inveterate foe of Voter ID laws, going beyond the pale to block all sorts of measures that the courts–including the Supreme Court–have indicated are fully acceptable under the Constitution and the VRA.
Once again, Holder had DOJ oppose Texas’ new law, just as he recently opposed the laws of Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and every other state to enact Voter ID.
In the 2008 case Crawford v. Marion County, the Supreme Court upheld Voter ID laws. However, Indiana is not covered under Section Five, so that left open that avenue of attack to take down these commonsense measures designed to protect the integrity of the ballot box.
But all this may come to an end soon enough. Next month the Supreme Court will vote whether to take Shelby County v. Holder, arguing that although it may have been justified under the Constitution’s Fifteenth Amendment during the civil rights era when voter suppression was deliberate and systemic, America is now a different place, and Section Five has become unconstitutional.
Breitbart News legal contributor Ken Klukowski is a fellow with the American Civil Rights Union and on faculty at Liberty University School of Law.