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Update on Texas Voter ID Litigation
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MEMO

To:
      Lone Star Project Friends, Supporters and other Interested Parties
From: Matt Angle, Lone Star Project Director
Re:      Texas Voter ID Litigation
Date:   March 9, 2017
 
Last week, the Trump Department of Justice brought press attention to the ongoing Texas voter ID lawsuit that remains pending before Federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi.  The Trump DOJ withdrew long-standing federal government claims that the Texas law was adopted with the intent to discriminate against Hispanic and African American Texans
 
By withdrawing its claims of discriminatory intent in the Texas case, the Trump DOJ, led by embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sent its first clear signal that the DOJ under Trump will not responsibly defend the U.S. Voting Rights Act or block discrimination against minority citizens.
 
Moreover, in their brief to Judge Ramos, the Trump DOJ argued that she should delay her ruling on discriminatory intent until the current Texas Legislature decides on the adoption of a new Texas voter ID law.  The argument is extraordinary in that it somehow reasons that the intentions of a Legislature convened in 2017 can repair or erase the discriminatory intentions of a different Legislature convened in 2011. 
 
On Tuesday, allied plaintiffs challenging the Texas voter ID law, who include U.S. Congressman Marc Veasey (TX33 – Dallas/Fort Worth), filed their brief responding to the Trump DOJ.  The brief is relatively short and easy to follow.  The key points made are:
  • The Trump DOJ withdrew its claims of discriminatory intent based on political rather than substantive legal considerations.  They failed to cite any new evidence refuting discriminatory intent.
  • Action by the current Texas Legislature to consider or pass a new voter ID law does not reflect on the intent of the Legislature five years ago, and should not affect Judge Ramos’ actions or ruling on discriminatory intent now.
  • Judge Ramos should issue her ruling on discriminatory intent now, while holding her final judgement and prescribing a remedy until the Legislature completes whatever actions it may take on new voter ID legislation.   
Judge Ramos is expected to issue her response to the briefs filed soon.

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