The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 31, 2012

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

The Big Conversation:

One more ruling this week and the federal government could have had a hat trick against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Federal judges struck down the state's Voter ID law yesterday, following a decision earlier in the week that found the redistricting maps passed by the Legislature for congressional and legislative races failed to protect minority voters.

Before yesterday's ruling came down Gov. Rick Perry — who later said it was a “victory for fraud” —  had just finished railing against federal encroachment on the state in an address to the Texas delegation at the National Republican Convention in Tampa.

 “It seems like all we do is sue the federal government right now,” the governor said.

Abbott has filed two dozen lawsuits against the federal government in recent years, opposing government funding for Planned Parenthood, expanded EPA regulations and Democratic health care policies.

Neither of this week's decisions will likely be reversed before the elections, since those are being conducted under interim maps approved by a separate set of federal judges and, in the case of Voter ID, the U.S. Supreme Court is not scheduled to reconvene until October.

The law, passed as SB-14 during the last legislative session, required that citizens furnish a photo ID before casting a ballot, which supporters say is a necessary tool to stamp out voter fraud in Texas. But the U.S. District court agreed with critics who say it would adversely affect the primarily poor, minority voters who don’t have easy access to an ID. 

Under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, the federal government must approve laws passed in states, including Texas, with a history of racial discrimination. 

“We find that Texas has failed to make this showing—in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, SB 14 will likely have a retrogressive effect,” the federal judges wrote in their opinion. “Given this, we have no need to consider whether Texas has satisfied section 5’s purpose element. Accordingly we deny the state’s request for a declaratory judgment.”

Abbott said the state will appeal the decision to the high court.

 "Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana — and were upheld by the Supreme Court," he said in a statement, "The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail."

Culled:

  • The little town of Carthage by the Louisiana border has a new $750,000 claim to fame. The newly installed 1200 square feet high school video screen on its scoreboard is definitely the largest in the state — and possibly the whole world, as the district's atheletic director told the Longview News Journal last week. Approved by a recent bond election, the Jumbotron takes eight people to operate. Tonight will be the first game of the season for the Carthage Bulldogs, a 3A football team.

  • After a column on a kerfuffle he had with an airport TSA agent, U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco, R-San Antonio, is crossways with his hometown newspaper, which he said distorted the facts. Canseco, embroiled in a nationally prominent general election race against Pete Gallego, called on supporters for donations to help combat the paper's liberal agenda.
  • Despite recent signs that his popularity among activists could be waning, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday received a warm welcome from Texas delegates in Tampa. Though he wasn't invited to speak at the big event, Perry told the delegates that he'd do anything asked of him to help Mitt Romney to victory in November. "Ask yourself what would four more years of this guy look like. What we’ve seen on steroids?" Perry said of President Barack Obama. "We must stop this man in his tracks now."

“He’s an American icon. You can’t look at him at through the same political lens that you would other politicians." — Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho to CNN’s Piers Morgan on the rambling Republican National Convention address from Clint Eastwood that inspired stern faces backstage and at least one Twitter meme.

Must-Read:

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