Opinion

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s blistering dissent on Texas voter ID law

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a blistering dissent Saturday on the court’s decision supporting Texas’ voter ID law.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

She took issue with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that too much time had passed to stop the law because early voting begins on Monday, the Huffington Post reported.

“In any event, there is little risk that the District Court’s injunction will in fact disrupt Texas’ electoral process,” Ginsburg said. “Texas need only reinstate the voter identification procedures it employed for ten years (from 2003 to 2013) and in five federal general elections.”

The Fifth Circuit was negligent in ignoring a lower court ruling that the law was “enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and would yield a prohibited discriminatory result.”

The law was struck down earlier this month by District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos, who said it would deter a large number of voters, most of whom are black and Hispanic.

“Based on the testimony and numerous statistical analyses provided at trial, this Court finds that approximately 608,470 registered voters in Texas, representing approximately 4.5% of all registered voters, lack qualified SB 14 ID and of these, 534,512 voters do not qualify for a disability exemption.” Ramos wrote.

Ginsburg agreed.

“The potential magnitude of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement counseled hesitation before disturbing the District Court’s findings and final judgment,” Ginsburg wrote. “Senate Bill 14 may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.”

Texas officials have disputed the findings, according to the New York Post.

Ginsburg added that voting rights have been an issue in Texas for some time.

“Racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970,” she wrote.

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Carmine Sabia

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