Last night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas’s voter ID law was intentionally written to discriminate against minorities. The ruling, which comes two years after the same judge likened Texas’ voter ID laws to a “poll tax,” said “blacks were 1.78 times more likely than whites, and Latinos 2.42 times more likely, to lack” the specific forms of identification required to vote.
Voter ID laws are a common tool for voter suppression that disproportionately target voters of color. The ruling that the law had a greater impact on minority voters than white voters makes it illegal under the Voting Rights Act. But even more good news came out of yesterday’s decision that the law not only had a discriminatory impact on people of color but was passed with a racially discriminatory intent. First, if the district court’s order is upheld it would be grounds for throwing out the entire law, not just changing parts of it.
And second, yesterday’s ruling could mean that Texas will be brought back under federal supervision under the Voting Rights Act. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and started to let racially discriminatory voter suppression laws take effect, but a separate remaining provision of the VRA allows states that engage in intentional voting discrimination to be brought back under federal supervision to protect voters. This is great news, but the case has a tough road ahead: it must now survive conservative Fifth Circuit Court and it will likely head to the Supreme Court.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Recess. Congress is home for recess, and people like you are making their voices heard. Here are just a few examples:
- South Carolina: Constituents at Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) town hall gave him a taste of his own medicine last night when they responded to him with the phrase he blurted at President Obama: “You lie!” Voters called Rep. Wilson out for saying he supports action to protect women from violence and saying that he would have supported Obama in Syria.
- Pennsylvania: Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) distanced himself from Trumpcare at a town hall this week, rejecting the most recent GOP proposal to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- Florida. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) was booed for attacking Planned Parenthood and denying climate change.
- California. One of Rep. McClintock’s (R-CA) constituents says “shame on you” for supporting harmful provisions in Trumpcare.
Looking for a recess event near you? Go to ResitanceNearMe.org, which has over 500 events happening across the country. Then go to RecessToolkit.com for sample questions to hold your member accountable, sample social media and more.
#SanBernardino. Once again, a senseless act of gun violence brought tragedy to a classroom. A teacher and 8-year-old student were shot and killed by the teacher’s husband in an apparent murder-suicide at a San Bernardino elementary school yesterday morning. We can no longer say that incidents like this are “unimaginable” because they happen far too often. And the United States has a serious problem with gun violence against women and children. Yesterday’s shooting was the 12th school shooting of 2017 and the second in a week. It was also a domestic violence incident. Every five hours a woman is murdered with a gun in the United States. We need to do more than offer thoughts and prayers.
Spring Break. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to visit his old pals in Russia this week. Top of the agenda? Russia’s support of the murderous Assad regime, which has put the usually pro-Russia Secretary of State in quite the bind. The rest of the Trump administration also seems confused about how to approach Russia, especially given that Putin’s government interfered in the election to help Trump win. But now that it’s clear that the Kremlin knew beforehand about Assad’s plan to poison Syrian civilians last week, the Trump administration has little choice left but to appear like they’re getting serious with Russia, at least while everyone’s watching.
Special elections. A special election to replace Rep. Mike Popmeo, who left to head the CIA, representing Kansas’ 4th District is taking place today. The district supported Trump by 27 points but it is seeming like less of a shoe-in for Republican Ron Estes than expected. In other unexpectedly close special elections, the race to replace Rep. Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th District is happening next week and early voting is favoring Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Tax season. It’s coming to an end. Need another reason to complete your taxes before the deadline? A government shutdown, which will happen if Congress and Trump can’t pass legislation to fund the government by April 28th, could mean 2.5 million families could be left waiting for nearly $8 billion in tax refunds.
UNDER THE RADAR
Big spender. President Trump’s weekly golf trips and biweekly trips to Mar-a-Lago in Florida are beginning to add up. If he keeps up this amount of not being at the White House, Trump is on track to spend more on travel in one year than President Obama did in eight. So much for cutting government waste.
White House Correspondents Dinner. The White House Correspondents’ Association has picked its headliner: Daily Show correspondent and stand-up comic Hasan Minhaj. Minhaj made headlines last year for his impassioned takedown of Congress’s inaction on gun safety, so he’s a fitting choice for this year.