Well, this is interesting.
While a federal judge in Corpus Christi mulls whether the state’s requirement to show photo ID to cast a ballot violates the federal Voting Rights Act, a judge on the highest criminal appeals court in Texas is taking another approach: He’s suing the state over its relatively new voter ID law.
Judge Lawrence “Larry” Meyers’ lawsuit, filed in Dallas County, claims the voting law enacted last year violates the Texas Constitution because it attempts to “prevent” voter fraud, something he says the state’s governing charter never intended.
Meyers’ lawsuit states that “the Texas Constitution gives the Texas Legislature power solely to ‘detect and punish’ election fraud when it has already occurred.” In an interview on Wednesday, Meyers said the Constitution says nothing about preventing election fraud.
“It’s legally unconstitutional and it’s an affront to every voter in the state of Texas,” Meyers said.
One law professor says Meyers’ close read of the Texas Constitution may be a little too tight for any court to accept, particuarly because Meyers does not prove that he was a party injured by the law.
“I think he’s trying to make a point that this law is not really necessary in order to try to prevent voter fraud,” said Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, a professor who teaches at South Texas College of Law in Houston. “But just because the law may not be necessary does not make a state constitutional violation.”
But Meyers says he doesn’t have to prove injury, only standing.
Andrew Sommerman, Meyers’ attorney, says his client and all Texas voters are injured parties because the law dissuades people from voting.
“The statute presumes our guilt before we go to the voting booth,” Sommerman said. “A voting booth is not a place that everyone is guilty of a crime before we vote.”
It’s certainly an interesting premise, but like Prof. Rhoades I am a bit dubious. I’m also not a lawyer, so that’s just my layman’s gut feeling. I think the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit laid out a perfectly solid case against this needless and harmful law, but you never know what can happen once the Fifth Circuit and SCOTUS get involved. We’ll see if anything comes of this.