Supreme Court decision clears way for Texas laws, local & state - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

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Supreme Court decision clears way for Texas laws, local & state leaders react

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A monumental ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed some sections of the Voting Right Act unconstitutional. This decision will have a big affect across the country, especially here in Texas.

For more than 40 years minorities felt that their voting rights were protected, thanks to Section 4 and 5 of the Voting Right Act. After Monday's ruling that sentiment has changed.

"This point it is a loss okay. I am disappointed in our Supreme Court," McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson said.

The act had required 16 states, including Texas, to get preclearance from the Federal Government before changing election laws. At the time the law was put in place to protect minorities in states that had a history of discrimination in voting laws.

It's a law Gibson believes he benefited from.

"I was elected because of the preclearence, because of the redistricting," Gibson said. "To ensure that Hispanics and African-Americans and the other minorities had the opportunity to be elected."

But after Monday's 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court believes the 40-year-old data doesn't represent the racial progress in the United States and finds the current process unconstitutional.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott is thrilled about Monday's ruling. He feels the decision has now made the state equal to others in the country when it comes to passing election legislation.

In a statement the Abbott said, "The U.S. Constitution establishes one United States -- not a divided nation with different laws applying to different states. Laws that apply unequally to just some states have no place in our nation. Today's ruling ensures that Texas is no longer one of just a few states that must seek approval from the federal government before its election laws can take effect."

Abbott thinks the Supreme Court's decision now paves the way for the state's voter ID law and redistricting maps to take effect immediately. But it's what some call a "backward" way of thinking that worries minority leaders.

"If you say Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, especially the state of Texas, got over people being free to vote. They haven't," Gibson said.

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, Gibson, former Interim President and Present Executive Board Member of the McLennan County Branch NAACP, believes Monday's decision is far from being final.

"If history is a dictator it's not going to be turning back. People are still going to struggle for the right to vote, and they are going to die for the right to vote. And that is not going to be denied," Gibson said.

After Monday's decision, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that they will offer free ID cards to registered voters who do not own a viable form of ID. Voters can apply at a DPS drivers license office, and must show proof of citizenship and residency.

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