DC Circuit Court has read Robert Caro

I have been reading the decision in State of Texas vs. Holder. I am no election lawyer, but Texas’s position at one point sounds a lot like it is trying to get the Supreme Court to rule Section 5 unconstitional.

On p. 17 of the decision, the District Court, in describing Texas’s decision, notes:

First, Texas argues that application of section 5′s effect element to voter ID laws is
inappropriate because such laws can never “deny[ ] or abridg[e] the right to vote.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1973c(a)

because citizens who are not registered due to a “minor inconvenience” have made a choice not to vote. The Court says later that this argument “completely misses the point of Section 5,” which is certainly I understood it. I wonder, was it the same panel of jurists that rejected this precise argument “advanced by none other than the State of Texas”? There is more discussion of their logic on pg. 53.

This argument seemed tailor made for a Supreme Court appeal, and Rick Hasen thought the Court might grant emergency relief, but the state is no longer seeking to put the law in place before the 2012 election.

My favorite moment, though, is the shout out to Robert Caro’s account of the 1948 Senbate election which promoted Lyndon Johnson to the Senate:

We can think of no good reason for their inclusion. After
all, Lyndon Johnson’s 1948 Senate race notwithstanding, the dead cannot vote in Texas. Robert Caro, Means to an Ascent 329 (First Vintage Books 1991).

Lots of political science in the decision: Daron Shaw (University of Texas) and Stephen Ansolabehere (Harvard University), althoughn the end the Court says neither side has convincing evidence.

They were most convinced by the 300 mile round trip (!) it takes to get to a DMV office in some areas of Texas.