Tag: disenfranchising voters

Federal Court Invalidates Part of Texas Congressional Map for Violating Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution

Illustration by Anneke Paterson / Todd Wiseman via texastribune.org

by Alexa Ura AND Jim Malewitz via texastribune.org

Federal judges invalidated two Texas congressional districts Tuesday, ruling that they must be fixed by either the Legislature or a federal court. A three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously ruled that Congressional Districts 27 and 35 violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

The judges found that Hispanic voters in Congressional District 27, represented by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, were “intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.” Congressional District 35 — a Central Texas district represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin — was deemed “an impermissible racial gerrymander” because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in drawing it, the judges wrote.

The 107-page ruling — the latest chapter of a six-year court battle over how Texas lawmakers drew political maps — sets up a scramble to redraw the districts in time for the 2018 elections. The court ruled only on the current congressional map, leaving legal challenges to the state House map unanswered. The court ordered the Texas Attorney General’s Office to indicate within three business days whether the Texas Legislature would take up redistricting to fix those violations — although Republicans in Austin had previously expressed no appetite to undertake a special session devoted to redistricting.

Otherwise, the state and its legal foes will head back to court on Sept. 5 to begin re-drawing the congressional map. That could shake up other congressional races when the boundaries are changed, though the court has asked the parties to consult with experts to “minimize the effect on adjoining districts.” Before Tuesday’s decision, the judges had already ruled that the Texas Legislature sought to weaken the strength of Latino and black voters while drawing state House and congressional districts in 2011, immediately following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed mixed emotions about Tuesday’s outcome. “We appreciate that the panel ruled in favor of Texas on many issues in the case. But the portion of the ruling that went against Texas is puzzling considering the Legislature adopted the congressional map the same court itself adopted in 2012,” the Republican said in a written statement. “We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas had discriminatory intent when relying on the district court.”

Minority and civil rights groups suing the state celebrated the ruling as a win for voters who they say were forced to cast votes under unconstitutional maps.

To read full article, go to: Federal court invalidates part of Texas congressional map | The Texas Tribune

U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects Strict North Carolina Voting Law Targeting African Americans

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 1.02.04 PM
(Screenshot via nbcnews.com)

article by Zachary Roth via nbcnews.com

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the heart of a North Carolina voting law seen as the strictest in the nation, finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against African-Americans when they passed it.

A divided 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the measure’s provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling is just the latest court win for voting rights advocates. A different federal appeals court ruled this month that Texas’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory and must be softened. And a district court softened Wisconsin’s ID law, too, though that decision is being appealed.

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said of the ruling, “we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”

The voting law imposed a voter ID requirement, cut early voting opportunities, eliminated same-day voter registration and banned out-of-precinct voting, among other provisions.

The court found that by 2013, African-American registration and turnout rates had reached near parity with those of whites. But weeks after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, Republicans said they planned to enact an “omnibus” voting law.

The court’s ruling continued: “Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African-Americans.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised the appeals court’s decision.

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has struck down a law that the court described in its ruling as ‘one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,'” she said. “The ability of Americans to have a voice in the direction of their country — to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation – is fundamental to who we are and who we aspire to be.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/appeals-court-strikes-down-strict-north-carolina-voting-law-n619836

Pennsylvania’s Black Caucus to Take Stand Against Voter ID Law

Pennsylvania's Black Caucus to Take Stand Against Voter ID Law
(Photo: Michael Perez/AP Photo)
In the wake of Tuesday’s Supreme Court’s ruling to do away with a portion of the Voting Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus has revealed its plan to push back against the state’s voter identification law. Members of the caucus and the NAACP have announced a rally on July 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. The state’s voter ID law is set to go on trial at the Commonwealth Court starting on July 15.

“It is vitally important that we continue to decry the gross perpetration of injustice upon our citizens. We will continue to stay on the offense,” said state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-Philadelphia), the chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, as reported by Penn Live.

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson said that the voter ID law threatens voting rights by disenfranchising more than 750,000 people. An injunction was placed on the law last year and prohibited its enforcement during the 2012 election. The upcoming trial will decide whether it will be lifted or made permanent in the next election cycle.

Continue reading “Pennsylvania’s Black Caucus to Take Stand Against Voter ID Law”