The Honest Elections Project filed a brief in federal court recently, defending the state of Texas’s duly enacted repeal of straight-ticket voting against yet another partisan lawsuit.
Our amicus brief makes several key points:
- The Constitution protects the rights of citizens against intentional racial discrimination. Congress has the power to enforce this protection by barring laws that deliberately discriminate. The Plaintiffs allege that Texas’ ban on straight ticket voting violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), specifically by leading to long lines at the polls which might disproportionately impact some voters. But banning straight-ticket voting is nondiscriminatory, and running afoul of the Constitution requires discriminatory intent, not merely impact. If the Court rules that Congress can block nondiscriminatory state legislation, then this raises serious Constitutional problems with Section 2 of the VRA.
- By the same token, the Constitution does not empower Congress to require states to make race central in crafting state law, including election law. Yet that is precisely what the Plaintiffs seek in this case: a judgement affirming that the VRA compels Texas to abandon a racially-neutral voting law and instead determine how Texans cast their votes based predominantly on racial grounds.
- Elections must be regulated to ensure fairness and order, but election laws of all kinds invariably burden the voting rights of citizens. But a long line of Supreme Court precedent makes clear that the way to judge whether the restrictions imposed by these rules violate the Constitutional rights of voters is to measure their impact on all voters, categorically—not, as the Plaintiffs argue, the impact on an individual voter or in light of his or her idiosyncratic preferences. Since Texas law clearly affords all voters the same right to vote, and Texas’s policy is the same as in 44 other states, its ban on straight-ticket voting clearly does not run afoul of this “categorical” test.
Click HERE to read the entire brief.