A law professor who testified during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Wednesday told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that his home state’s voter ID laws were among those that could be considered racist.
In a hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution titled “Restoring the Voting Rights Act: Combating Discriminatory Abuses,” Cruz, the subpanel’s ranking member, asked each of the five witnesses to say whether they believed “voter ID laws” were “racist.”
Franita Tolson, vice dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, was the first to respond, saying that “it depends” and that “one thing we have to stop doing is treating all voter ID laws as the same.”
Cruz, because he has more fingers than necessary to count his IQ points, asked her to clarify, “What voter ID laws are racist?”
Tolson replied, “Apologies, Mr. Cruz. Your state of Texas, perhaps.”
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge what she actually said before Cruz brings down the IQ of everyone in the room by opening his mouth. Voter ID laws like the ones in Texas appear to be racially motivated. Now let’s see what the Canadian playing cowboy heard.
Cruz responded, “OK, so you think the entire state of Texas is racist. What about requiring an ID to vote is racist?”
Tolson responded by saying that his conclusion on her statement was “pretty reductive,” adding, “I’m not saying the entire state of Texas is racist.” –He likely knew that, but he doesn’t have a response to nuance in his dialogue tree so he went with the partisan hack response.
The professor went on to say that the state’s voter ID law “was put into place to diminish the political power of Latinos with racist intent —”
Cruz interrupted by saying, “You’re asserting that. What’s your evidence?”
Tolson responded by citing the ruling by a federal judge in 2017 that said the Texas voter ID law passed in 2011 was designed with the intent to discriminate against Black and Hispanic voters, who are less likely to have photo IDs or the resources — such as owning a vehicle — that make it easier to get them.
Texas isn’t the only state to single out ID minority residents are most likely to have before disallowing it to be used as a valid form of ID to vote, North Carolina was recently reprimanded for specifically targeting African American voters. Like, say, prohibiting voting practices and policies that have been exceptionally popular in black communities even though there is no discernable threat to election integrity. This is putting up a barrier between American citizens and one of their constitutionally guaranteed rights without valid or just cause.
Texas has been known to have some of the strictest voting laws in the country, and the state spent much of the year in the national spotlight as GOP lawmakers pushed to pass a sweeping election overhaul bill that prompted a weeks-long protest by state House Democrats.
Opponents of the bill, which was eventually passed by the House late last month, argue that its measures, which include new voter ID requirements for mail-in voting and limits on early voting hours, would disproportionately make it more difficult for people of color and those with disabilities to vote.
If that isn’t the intent then why not make altercations so that the voter ID law doesn’t disproportionately affect minority groups?
In Wednesday’s hearing, he went on to ask the other legal experts brought forth to testify about whether they thought voter ID laws were racist.
Each person gave similar responses, including Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who said that “there are some voter ID laws that are racially discriminatory in intent.”
When asked about their effects, Saenz said that “there are discriminatory effects from a number of voter ID laws.”