In the wake of this morning’s Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, it stood to reason that Republican policymakers, especially in the South, would be pleased. After all, despite generations of institutional racism and systemic discrimination, these officials have wanted to curtail voting rights without the Justice Department’s interference for a while.
But exactly how long did it take before we learned of GOP policymakers acting on that satisfaction? About an hour after the ruling was announced.
Just hours after the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that guts parts of the Voting Rights Act, Texas is moving forward with a controversial voter ID law that state Attorney General Greg Abbott hopes to implement right away.
“With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”
The Texas law requires voters to show photo identification to vote – a measure that was blocked by the Justice Department, arguing the law could discriminate against racial minorities. At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder called the law a “poll tax.”
Holder was right, but according to the Supreme Court majority, that no longer matters.
What’s more, it’s not just Texas. My Maddow Show colleague Tricia McKinney found all kinds of related examples, with officials who seemed almost giddy by the prospect of acting on voting rights without fear of Justice Department intervention.
There was this AP story out of Mississippi …
Mississippi Republican officials are applauding Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will allow the state’s voter identification law to take effect without federal approval.
… and this one out of North Carolina* …
Voter identification legislation in North Carolina will pick up steam again now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, a key General Assembly leader said Tuesday.
… and this one out of South Carolina …
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said the Supreme Court ruling is a victory over “an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty in certain states, including South Carolina.” He said great strides had been made over time, making the preclearance requirement obsolete.
“Today’s decision means the voting rights of all citizens will continue to be protected under the Voting Rights Act without requiring a different formula for states wishing to implement reasonable election reforms, such as voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s,” Wilson said. “This is a victory for all voters as all states can now act equally without some having to ask for permission or being required to jump through the extraordinary hoops demanded by federal bureaucracy.”
… and in Virginia, state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) wants folks to know that if the commonwealth approves voting restrictions, don’t worry, you can still sue.
“Voter discrimination has no place in the Commonwealth and will not be tolerated by members of the Senate of Virginia. As every Virginia voter who believes a voting law or redistricting line to be discriminatory retains the ability to bring a court challenge, protections against voter discrimination remain intact despite the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.”
The “war on voting” was relentless in 2011 and 2012, and got off to an aggressive start in 2013. In the coming months, it’s going to get much worse.