Redistricting and voter ID lawsuit updates

From Texas Redistricting, a typically thorough look at where things stand with redistricting and voter ID litigation in the three courts – San Antonio, where the redistricting litigation has been ongoing and is likely due for some action; Corpus Christi, where the recent voter ID lawsuits were filed and now stand, likely pending consolidation; and the DC Circuit Court, which still has some unfinished business on redistricting but no longer on voter ID. Read it and stay up to date on what’s happening.

There are now some new players in the voter ID litigation. First up is the Texas League of Young Voters, who filed papers to join the fray on Monday.

The filing contends that the state’s voter ID law would disproportionately affect students like Imani Clark, a student at historically black Prairie View A&M University in Waller County.

The filings said that Ms. Clark did not drive and did not possess any of the seven forms of ID required by S.B. 14, though she does have a student ID with which she had been able to vote in past elections.

The League contends that the law violates both section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution.

See the filing, which will be opposed by the state of Texas, here. The state of Texas also opposes the intervention by the Justice Department, not that this should surprise anyone. The DOJ, meanwhile, wants the court to combine the cases and postpone some of the deadlines. I expect that will be granted.

Also getting in the voter ID litigation action is the city of Austin.

A unanimous council, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 cleared the way for the voter-ID law, directed the city’s lawyers to look into joining a lawsuit already filed U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, as well as any challenges to the voter law by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The council also directed the city staff to explore other steps, such as establishing places where residents without proper identification could secure a provisional ID for voting purposes.

The council’s resolution states the voter-ID law “may present a barrier to eligible citizens who intend to vote, especially minorities and those who may have recently moved or gotten married or divorced and may not realize that they need to update their identification.”

Good for Austin. I’d like to see a lot more cities join them in this.

The Atlantic has a good overview of the stakes and the more inflammatory rhetoric being used in the current legal battles.

What we are seeing now is a political war that will be waged in legal terms in part because of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County ruling and in part because of all of the voter suppression efforts that preceded it (in Texas and around the country). Just because state officials are offended by a federal lawsuit doesn’t mean the state law they seek to defend is constitutional. And just because a state law makes it harder for people to vote doesn’t necessarily make it unconstitutional. The post-Shelby County world has arrived, not with a quick Congressional fix to restore key voting protections for minorities but with still more politically tinged litigation.

Read the whole thing. In addition to the state-versus-federal lawsuits, there is now litigation in Galveston County over its proposal to reduce the number of constable and JP precincts, and I feel confident that a lawsuit over the Pasadena City Council redistricting plan is imminent. These are good days to be an election lawyer, that’s for sure.

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