Ginsburg’s colleagues voted 6-3 to allow the Texas law to remain in effect for the upcoming election. But as she observed in a scathing dissent issued Saturday, the measure may prevent more than 600,000 registered voters, or 4.5 percent of the total, from voting in person for lack of accepted identification. “A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic,” she wrote.
The law’s intent is “purposely discriminatory,” Ginsburg concluded. Citing the U.S. District Court ruling that declared the Texas law unconstitutional, she observed that since 2000, Texas has become a majority-minority state. That gave its Legislature and governor “an evident motive to ‘gain partisan advantage by suppressing'” the votes of Blacks and Latinos.
Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Her views parallel those of Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, who dissented in the same vein, as reported, from a decision of his bench colleagues to uphold a Wisconsin voter ID law.
In that case, the Supreme Court overruled the appeals court, suspending the Wisconsin law for the upcoming election. Its reasoning was similar to that underlying the Texas ruling — it’s too close to the election to change the rules now. Ginsburg acknowledged that the chance of disrupting an election is a worthy consideration, but said it’s outweighed in the Texas case by the severity of the discrimination, among other grounds.