In what is being called a "huge win for voting rights" and a resounding defeat of "Jim Crow-era tactics", a federal judge on Wednesday struck down a major voter ID law passed by the Republican-dominated Texas state legislature on the grounds that it would place a "disproportionate burden" on black and Latino voters.
"Today's ruling is outrageous", he said.
Further, as Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner notes, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions the Department of Justice has "reversed the position it held during the Obama administration beginning in February, when it stopped backing the challengers to the [Texas] voter ID law".
"From discriminatory gerrymandering to discriminatory voter ID laws, it has become entirely clear that Texas Republicans are rigging our election system", Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, told The Associated Press.
"African-American and Latino voters will now be able to vote in Texas without any of the suppressive effects of Texas's ill-conceived and unnecessary photo ID law", she said in a statement posted to Twitter. "It's time for Congress to finally act to restore the Voting Rights Act, and put an end to these kinds of efforts that deny voters of color access to the ballot".
Those challenging the Texas law also asked Ramos to require Texas to get federal approval for any election law changes under a Voting Rights Act provision for jurisdictions found to intentionally discriminate. Still, Texas keeps trying to adjust the law and push it through.
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"SB 5 does not meaningfully expand the types of photo IDs that can qualify, even though the Court was clearly critical of Texas having the most restrictive list in the country".
Ramos, however, said the change still would have a discriminatory and chilling effect, "replacing the lack of qualified photo ID with an overreaching affidavit threatening severe penalties for perjury".
Under this version, registered voters who didn't have an acceptable photo ID could still vote if they signed an affidavit and provided documentation with their name and address - like a utility bill or bank statement.
Texas has already appealed the redistricting ruling and vowed to appeal the voter ID one. It passed after Ramos ruling, but to the judge's chagrin, however, the list of seven required IDs did not change.
The decision comes as a blow to the Texas state legislature as well as the U.S. Justice Department under U.S. President Donald Trump. "The federal district court's decisions rejecting SB 14 and SB 5 reaffirm the core goal of the hard-fought Voting Rights Act which sought to eliminate racially discriminatory barriers to voting no matter how they are disguised".
Here's the kicker: Texas eliminated the "other" option for voters to select if their impediment for not obtaining a photo ID isn't one of the six Texas offered. "It's wrong, and a federal court has now confirmed it's a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act".