GOP Voter Suppression, Texas Style

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

PerryIf you do a Google search for Texas + secession, you will be shocked at the number of hits (or maybe not).

The question is not whether Texas can secede — it can't — but rather can the rest of America kick Texas out of the Union for ignorant racist crap like this?

Adam Serwer reports, Texas on voting rights: It's not about race, just politics:

Texas didn’t discriminate against minority voters. It was only
because they were Democrats. And even if it did, the racial
discrimination Texas engaged in is nowhere near as bad as the stuff that
happened in the 1960s.

These are some of the arguments the state of Texas is making in an
attempt to stave off federal supervision of its election laws.

* * *

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision, Texas moved to reinstate restrictive voting laws
that had previously been blocked by the feds. As far as it’s 2011
redistricting plan goes, the state’s brief argues that’s all in the
past, and it was a partisan issue rather than a racial one anyway.

“The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by
partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ
have zero evidence to prove the contrary,” the state writes in its
brief. “It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled
legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are
incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic
candidates.”

Furthermore, the state claims, even if Texas did discriminate, and the
state stresses that it did not, it was nothing as bad as “the
‘pervasive,’ ‘flagrant,’ ‘widespread,’ and ‘rampant’ discrimination that
originally justified preclearance in 1965.” So as long as Texas skies
aren’t alight with flames from burning crosses, what’s the big whoop?

Or as Francis Wilkerson of Bloomberg News posed the question, "So, here's the question the federal courts must decide: When the white party uses its legislative authority to undermine the brown and black party, is that a racial act or merely a political one?" Texas: We Only Hate Democrats, Not Minorities.

Steve Benen writes today, Texas struggles to defend discriminatory voting policies:

The arguments from Gov. Rick Perry's (R) administration are pretty amazing, especially considering federal courts already found Texas' election policies discriminatory as recently as two years ago, before the Supreme Court intervened.

As Kevin Drum explained, Texas' first argument, as pushed by state Attorney General Greg Abbott, "is that, sure, Texas has tried to discriminate as recently as 2011, but their efforts were overturned by a court. So that means there are no current violations, and thus no reason to grant any kind of 'equitable relief.'"

The
second argument is the half-glass-full tack. As Serwer put it, "[T]he
state claims, even if Texas did discriminate, and the state stresses
that it did not, it was nothing as bad as 'the 'pervasive,' 'flagrant,'
'widespread,' and 'rampant' discrimination that originally justified
preclearance in 1965.' So as long as Texas skies aren't alight with
flames from burning crosses, what's the big whoop?"

But it's the third argument that's truly amazing.

From the brief filed by the state:

DOJ's accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011,
both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican
majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase
the Republican Party's electoral prospects at the expense of the
Democrats….The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were
motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the
plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary.

Got that? Texas wasn't trying to discriminate against
racial and ethnic minorities; Texas was simply trying to discriminate
against racial and ethnic minorities who vote for Democrats
.

In other words, Texas' defense is that state policymakers were trying to crush the Democratic vote, and this led to inadvertent
discrimination against African Americans and Latinos. As such, the
argument goes, Texas was motivated by crass partisanship, and not
racism, so the discrimination doesn't really count.

Any chance
this might be persuasive in court? Brenda Wright, a voting law expert
with the liberal think tank Demos, told Serwer, "I don't think it's
going to work, frankly. The mere desire to achieve partisan advantage
does not give Texas a free hand to engage in racial discrimination. If
the only way you can protect white incumbents is by diluting the voting
strength of Hispanic citizens, you are engaging in intentional racial
discrimination, and the courts will see that."

The Texas Legislature has tried to end the redistricting lawsuit by throwing out the 2011 maps that the Washington, D.C. District Court declared intentionally discriminatory and replacing them with the 2012 maps drawn by the San Antonio Federal Court judges. Texas primaries could be delayed again over redistricting:

Minority groups say that’s not good enough
because those maps include many of the same discriminatory elements
drawn by the Legislature in 2011. They want the judges to draw new
maps from scratch and require Texas to submit any other changes to
election law for court or Justice Department review.

Abbott opposes all of this and wants the case
dropped.

In court papers, he signaled that he’s ready to
go to the Supreme Court if he doesn’t get his way.

That places the San Antonio judges in a tough spot
because time is running out for the spring primary elections. County
clerks say they need to know what political maps to use by September

to comfortably register candidates by Dec. 1 to vote March 4.

If the court rules in favor of the minority
groups, the judges will need time to draw new maps and give the state
a chance to appeal their decision. These appeals can take weeks, and
thus delay the primary.

The 2014 election already promises a huge turnover
in the state’s top jobs due to retirements and candidates seeking
to move up. What Texas needs is a Democratic voter uprising like we saw in Austin during the special session last month to kick these ignorant racists to the curb. If Democrats would actually turn out to vote in Texas — Texas Dead Last In U.S. For Voter Turnout, Near Bottom For Most Civic Duties — there could be major shake-up in Texas.

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