Night-table reading: United States vs. State of Texas

On the un-Constitutionality of stifling college voters:

The complaint of the United States alleges that defendant Symm, by virtue of certain practices, including the use of a unique form, has abridged the right of Prairie View dormitory residents to vote in violation of their rights under the 14th, 15th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

This is the case that set up the appeal to the (US) Supreme Court (Symm vs. US) to which everybody is now referring. If you read on, you'll understand why it was affirmed with no commentary other than Rehnquist's whiny dissent. The lower court had tons of relevant precedent backing it up, including the Constitution and Statute:

The statute quoted above was limited to federal elections by Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112, 91 S.Ct. 260, 27 L.Ed.2d 272 (1970), but almost immediately Congress proposed and three-fourths of the states adopted the 26th Amendment which provides that the right of citizens who are over 18 to vote shall not be "denied or abridged" by any state "on account of age."

Senate Report No. 26, 92nd Cong., 1st Sess. (1971), with reference to the 26th Amendment noted that:

". . . forcing young voters to undertake special burdens — obtaining absentee ballots, or traveling to one centralized location in each city, for example — in order to exercise their right to vote might well serve to dissuade them from participating in the election. This result and the election procedures that create it, are at least inconsistent with the purpose of the Voting Rights Act, which sought to encourage greater political participation on the part of the young; such segregation might even amount to a denial of their 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the laws in the exercise of the franchise."

In 1976, Congress amended the language of Title III of the Voting Rights Act in § 1973bb to specifically set out that this portion of the Act was "to implement" the 26th Amendment.

1255*1255 Litigation was necessary to enforce the promises of Title III of the Voting Rights Act Amendment of 1970, and the 26th Amendment. One such case was Whatley. Whatley does not stand alone, but is merely one of a number of cases reaching virtually the identical conclusion and applying the same philosophy.

The first of this series of cases is Bright v. Baesler, 336 F.Supp. 527 (E.D.Ky.1971). Like Whatley, Bright v. Baesler was a case in which officials in Lexington, Kentucky sought to enforce a presumption that students were domiciliaries of their parents' homes. Plaintiffs contended that the official practices were violative of the 14th and 26th Amendments, as well as of 42 U.S.C. § 1971, et seq. As in the case at bar, the registrar in Bright had required students to complete and answer a series of questions designed to overcome a presumption that they were domiciliaries of their parents' homes.

The court enjoined the defendants from imposing additional or special criteria for proof of domicile upon University students; required the defendant to ask each applicant the same questions regardless of occupation and required that the questions asked reasonably relate to proof of domicile. The court at 336 F.Supp. at 533 said:

". . . Because voting rights involve the First Amendment freedom of association, the State may not impose restrictions upon that right unless there is a compelling state interest in the imposed restriction or classification. Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 89 S.Ct. 5, 21 L.Ed.2d 24 (1968). It would seem, therefore, that the extra burden of proof imposed upon students in regard to proof of their domicil may only be held constitutional if a compelling state interest is thereby served.

While the GOP might think maintaining and/or expanding a Republican majority in the General Assembly is a "compelling state interest", I doubt if even Clarence Thomas would agree. And that's saying a lot, let me tell you.

And as for not-the-bus-driver Dallas:

AFPNC 1:30pm via Twitter for iPhone
@ivanrich: Symm v. US, 1979: students have constitutional rt 2 register 2 vote where they attend school. #ncga AND Pay Taxes

For those who have difficulty decoding Tweets, I've underlined Dallas' (I'm pretty sure it's him) contribution to this one.

This alone should lose any Tea Party support AFP might still have. Unless they've decided to change the meaning of "TEA" from "Taxed Enough Already" to "Thoughtless Elephant Admirers". That was...actually pretty clever for a Sunday afternoon. I'm gonna have to write that one down.