The New York Times reports that the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, has struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, but upheld Section 5. For those of you who are not familiar, Section 5 is the more contentious provision, which requires certain predominantly Southern States to have their voting and election procedures precleared by the Federal Government, specifically the Department of Justice. Section 4 is the formula that the law uses to determine who requires approval under Section 5. Under current law, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as about half of North Carolina’s county, are covered under Section 5. The court ruled, 5-4 in usual fashion, that the formula was outdated and that enforcement of the law would be enjoined until Congress could revise it.
For all intent and purposes, this guts and kills the Voting Rights Act for the time being. The important part is that, when the Democrats retake the Congress, it will be reauthorized. Brains and Eggs has more on the big picture. However, there will be some local implications for the time being.
The Houston Chronicle, in its coverage on the issue, reveals that the Texas state government was wasting no time getting down to [Jim Crow] business. Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately commented that the Voter ID Act would take effect immediately. Progressive groups will still be positioning against the measure as a violation of the Constitution.
The Texas Tribune reports that the Department of Public Safety has recently announced it will be handing out free “Voter Identification cards.” This has done to avoid the critique that an identification was a de facto poll tax. To obtain these identification cards, however, would still be stupidly burdensome for indigent individuals to make their way to the suburbs for the DPS office.
Great, this just adds another reason for Governor Perry to call another Special Session.