The Fifth Circuit, in a 9-6 ruling, has said that Texas’ Voter ID law violates the Federal Voting Rights Act and returned it to the trial court to…fix…it.
[The appellate court] instructed a lower court to come up with an “interim remedy” before the November election.
Therein lies a major part of the problem. Regardless of what one might think of the particular law, any alteration to it is a political matter, to be done by the people and their elected representatives. The courts have no authority whatsoever to write law or to rewrite an extant one; indeed, our Constitution explicitly bars the courts from such things.
There’s more. Writing for the majority, Judge Catharina Haynes wrote this, having already acknowledged that there is no direct evidence of discriminatory intent.
In this day and age we rarely have legislators announcing an intent to discriminate based upon race, whether in public speeches or private correspondence. To require direct evidence of intent would essentially give legislatures free reign to racially discriminate so long as they do not overtly state discrimination as their purpose and so long as they proffer a seemingly neutral reason for their actions. This approach would ignore the reality that neutral reasons can and do mask racial intent….
In other words, whenever legislators disagree with judges, judges must proceed from a presumption of dishonesty on the part of the legislators. Direct evidence be damned.
[C]ourts may consider both circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available.
Because circumstantial evidence, especially in the absence of direct evidence, can be interpreted in any way convenient to the judge’s predisposition—or to a litigant’s narrative. That’s why circumstantial evidence is so sketchy in the first place.
The dissent, written by Judge Edith Jones, makes the majority’s shameful behavior plain.
No one doubts our unwavering duty to enforce antidiscrimination law. But in this media-driven and hyperbolic era, the discharge of that duty requires the courage to distinguish between invidious motivation and shadows. The ill-conceived, misguided, and unsupported majority opinion shuns discernment. Because of definitive Supreme Court authority, no comparable federal court precedent in over forty years has found a state legislative act motivated by purposeful racial discrimination.
All of that represents a very serious bit of judicial misbehavior, and it puts a premium on getting this 2016 election right. A Progressive-Democrat in the White House, together with a Democrat-owned [sic] Senate, will have damaging effects far beyond the Supreme Court damage I’ve been on about in other articles: they’ll have their impact on lower courts, too, and throughout our judicial system.
The ruling can be seen here.