It’s amazing the kind of honesty that will come out when someone, or something, is forced to defend themselves in court against harsh accusations. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing with the State of Texas defending its new strict voting laws against the Department of Justice’s accusations that they’re targeting minorities.
You see, Republicans in the state of Texas are trying to keep the Department of Justice from overseeing their new voting laws by claiming that yes, the GOP gerrymandering within the state in 2011 did seek to disenfranchise Democrats. However, they’re claiming it did so only along partisan party lines—not racial. They freely admit their redistricting plans were meant to weaken the voting power of a political party, they just insist those redistricting maps had nothing to do with race. So that’s evidence that their strict new voting laws can’t possibly be about keeping minorities from voting—just Democrats.
Yes, believe it or not, that argument is actually a large part of their defense. They admit that they blatantly redrew districts to weaken the Democratic vote in Texas, but it was done so along partisan lines—not racial.
Oh, but it gets even more ridiculous.
Another part of Texas’ argument seems to be that even if their new voting laws do happen to disenfranchise minorities—it’s really not that big of a deal. Because the events of the 1960’s were much worse.
Let that sink in for a moment.
A state openly admitting that they redrew district maps to purposely split up and weaken the Democratic vote (something we all knew Republicans were doing but had yet to hear admitted publicly), claiming that even if their new voting laws did happen to disenfranchise minorities from voting that it isn’t that big of a big deal because “the 60’s were much worse.”
Basically, “Yes, we’ve been trying to rig elections along partisan lines and even if our new laws might target minorities in a way—at least we’re not doing what they did in the 1960’s.”
Well, at least not yet. But you can clearly see this is the path Republicans across the country are taking.
This is by far one of the most asinine arguments I’ve ever seen. A state taking an example where they blatantly tried to disenfranchise an entire political party in the voting process — using that as evidence that they’re not targeting race?
Then saying that even if their new laws do (by “sheer coincidence”) happen to target minorities, it’s no big deal because in the 60’s the laws some states were trying to pass to keep minorities from voting were much worse.
Their entire argument pretty much hinges on the fact that things were so bad in the 1960’s (as it relates to voting rights) it forced the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but their new laws are nothing compared to those of the “‘pervasive,’ ‘flagrant,’ ‘widespread,’ and ‘rampant’ discrimination that originally justified preclearance in 1965.”
So their argument isn’t that they’re not possibly discriminating based on race, but that if these laws do happen to discriminate—they only discriminate “a little.” Oh, and their evidence that they would never blatantly racially discriminate is admitting that Texas sought to weaken the Democratic party in the state by redrawing districts that favored Democrats. But remember the State of Texas only redrew the districts based on partisan voting patterns, race had nothing to do with it.
This defense the State of Texas is trying to use is almost reminiscent of something you’d find on The Onion. A state admitting to partisan redistricting, partially admitting to racial discrimination in their new voting laws but saying “it could always be worse.”
Which I guess is true. We could have members of the Ku Klux Klan guarding voting sites and burning crosses lighting our night skies.
Luckily, most experts seem to be saying that this defense stands almost no chance at being successful. Simply arguing that current laws “aren’t as bad” as horrific laws from decades ago isn’t much of a defense for their legality, and Texans (like myself) should be mortally ashamed that this is what our state has come to.