The department alleged that Texas’ restrictive voting law disenfranchised people with disabilities, elderly individuals, voters abroad, and those who speak limited English.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas Thursday over the state’s voting law, arguing that the policy “will disenfranchise eligible Texas citizens who seek to exercise their right to vote.”
The law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in September and is set to take effect Dec. 2, is one of the most restrictive in the country.
Among other measures, the new restrictions include bans on 24-hour and drive-through voting, new voter identification requirements for mail-in ballots, limits to third-party ballot collection, and major expansions on the power of partisan poll watchers.
In its lawsuit, the DOJ said the legislation will limit the ability of numerous Texans to vote, including “voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military” who are deployed, as well as other Americans abroad.
“The State of Texas’s history of official voting-related discrimination against its disfavored citizens is longstanding and well-documented,” it continued, noting that before the new rules, the state already imposed incredibly strict voting limitations on assistance to citizens in need and mail-in voting.
“Federal intervention has been necessary to eliminate numerous devices intentionally used to restrict minority voting in Texas.”
Specifically, the suit alleges that the law violates the federal Voting Rights Act by limiting how much assistance poll workers can provide to voters in need, such as those whose disabilities or language barriers necessitate extra help.
According to the DOJ, the new rules prevent polling officials from answering questions, clarifying translations, and explaining the voting process or paraphrasing complex legal language. Officials who take such actions may face criminal charges under another provision of the legislation.
The department also argues that the Texas policy defies the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it requires election officials to throw out mail-in ballots if they do not include the voter’s current driver’s license number, an election identification number, or part of a Social Security number.
“[The law] mandates rejection of written materials requisite to voting based on errors or omissions that are not material to determining a voter’s qualification to vote or vote by mail,” the suit states.
Response and Further Calls for Action
Republican leaders in Texas condemned the lawsuit and promised to fight for the voting restrictions, which they have repeatedly argued are necessary to safeguard election security.
“Bring it,” Abbott wrote in a tweet Thursday. “The Texas election integrity law is legal.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton painted the move as a targetted political attack by the Biden administration.
“Biden is coming after Texas,” he wrote. “Ensuring Texas has safe, secure, and transparent elections is a top priority of mine. I will see you in court, Biden!”
Democrats in the state applauded the DOJ lawsuit.
“Texas is the poster child for voter suppression in this country,” Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D) tweeted, adding that until the Senate passed the federal voting bill, “it’s important for the Department of Justice to utilize every single tool they have in states like Texas.”
Martinez Fischer’s call for Congress to act was also echoed in a joint statement from a group of Democrats who chair the House Democratic Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas Legislative Black Caucus and Legislative Study Group.
However, attempts to pass federal bills aimed at combatting the slate of restrictive election bills introduced in Republican-led states following the 2020 elections have failed repeatedly.
As recently as Wednesday, Republican senators moved to block voting rights legislation for the third time this year. The Justice Department, for its part, has taken steps to combat state-led efforts to restrict voting.
Earlier this year, the agency filed a separate lawsuit against a voting law in Georgia over allegations that the policy specifically aimed to suppress Black voters.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Texas Tribune)
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Abortion Case That Could Overturn Roe v. Wade
If the high court agrees to strike down the abortion precedent that has been in place for decades, numerous states would be able to quickly ban the procedure in all or most instances.
Oral Arguments on Mississippi Abortion Ban
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the biggest abortion case in decades as part of a challenge that could overturn Roe v. Wade and reverse legal precedents for reproductive rights that have been in place for nearly half a century.
The case is based on a 2018 law in Mississippi that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for “severe fetal abnormality” but not rape and incest.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic sued on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the law, and the state appealed to the Supreme Court.
When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case in June of 2020, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn” Roe, which was decided in 1973, or the subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In Casey, the Supreme Court ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.
However, Fitch changed tactics after Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who personally opposes abortion, was appointed to a seat vacated following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, effectively solidifying a supermajority of conservatives on the Court.
In an apparent attempt to capitalize on the Court’s new makeup, Fitch filed a brief this summer asking it to overturn Roe when it ruled on the Mississippi ban.
Far-Reaching, Immediate Implications
As a result of the latent motion, if the justices rule in favor of Mississippi, the decision would have a devastating impact on abortion access nationwide.
Mississippi is one of many Republican-held states that have passed severe abortion restrictions that lower courts have struck down because they violate Supreme Court decisions on fetal viability.
Almost all of those laws are not in effect with the exception of Texas’ six-week ban, which the high court last month refused to block as legal challenges play out.
Notably, the justices could decide to uphold the 15-week ban but not agree to Fitch’s motion asking them to overturn Roe. Such a move would undo the precedent for fetal viability set under Casey and allow states to ban abortions earlier, but it would leave the 1973 ruling intact.
However, if the justices do agree to scrap Roe, not only would that decision create a path for more states to pass laws that limit abortions, it would also allow abortion bans to take effect very quickly in many parts of the country
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 22 states currently have laws in place that could be used to restrict abortion if Roe is struck down. That figure includes 12 states that have “trigger laws,” which would ban all or most abortions immediately if the precedent is overturned.
While the Court is hearing arguments now, it is not expected to rule on the matter until next spring or early summer, setting up the subject to be a major focus for the 2022 midterms.
Although Roe v. Wade is a constitutional matter, public polls have shown that support for the precedent has remained strong over the years — even as more conservative states attempt to impose increasingly strict bans.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC News)
Suspect in Deadly Waukesha Parade Crash Faces 5 Homicide Charges
The suspect, who killed five and injured 48 after driving through a parade with his SUV, has a long criminal history and was released on bail a week prior to the incident for allegedly running a woman over with the same vehicle.
Car Drives Into Waukesha Parade
The man suspected of killing at least five people and injuring another 48 after driving his car into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, faces five counts of homicide, police announced in a press briefing Monday.
Dance groups, high school bands, politicians, and other members of the Milwaukee suburb marched Sunday in the 58th annual Christmas parade, which was put on hold last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At about 4:40 p.m — just 40 minutes after the parade started — a red SUV plowed through barricades, sped down the parade route, and barrelled into dozens of people.
While speaking at Monday’s press conference, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson confirmed that the number of people hospitalized for injuries rose from 40 to 48 and includes two children who are in critical condition.
That figure differs from an earlier statement from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, which said six children of the 18 hospitalized there were in critical condition.
Thompson named the victims who died, whose ages ranged from 52-81, and identified the suspect as a 39-year-old Milwaukee man.
According to Thompson, the suspect had been involved in a “domestic disturbance” involving a knife “just minutes prior.” The police chief went on to say that police were unable to respond to the initial call about that disturbance because they had to respond to the parade so soon after they got it. He also stressed that there was no police pursuit in action before the man plowed through the parade.
Thompson said that police are “confident” the man acted alone and found “no evidence this is a terrorist incident.” Still, he declined to say whether or not a motive was known.
In addition to the five intentional homicide charges police are recommending, Thompson noted that more charges may come as the investigation continues with assistance from the FBI.
Previous Criminal History and Questionable Bond
After the suspect’s name was released, reporters quickly found his lengthy criminal record dating back to 1999.
Court and police records show that, over the last 22 years, the suspect was charged or convicted with a wide range of crimes including domestic violence, battery, drug possession, and resisting arrest.
In addition to serving at least two jail sentences, he spent several years on probation as well as in court-mandated anger management programs.
Most recently, just six days before he drove through the parade, the suspect was freed on $1,000 bail after being accused of trying to run over the mother of his child with the same vehicle.
According to a police report seen by several outlets, the man in question was arrested on Nov. 2 when the woman accused him of punching her in the face then following her into the parking lot of a gas station with his SUV before running her over.
Officers wrote that they “observed tire tracks on her left pants leg”, as well as “swelling on her lip and dried blood on her face,” noting she was taken to the hospital after the incident.
Prosecutors charged the man with obstructing an officer, second-degree recklessly endangering safety with domestic abuse assessments, disorderly conduct with domestic abuse assessments, and misdemeanor battery with domestic abuse assessments.
He was also charged with bail jumping because he was already out on bail related to an incident in July 2020. In that case, he was charged with two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment of safety and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
While the suspect was initially facing a $10,000 bail, prosecutors agreed to release him on the $1,000 bail.
In a statement Monday, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office said it should not have recommended such a low bail and announced that it was launching an internal review into the matter.
The office also described the bail recommendation as “inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges” and added that it was “not consistent” with the office policy “toward matters involving violent crime” or “risk assessment of the defendant.”
The suspect is set to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon. The District Attorney’s office said it will file initial charges at that time.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Armored Truck Spills Money on California Freeway, Triggering Cash-Grab Frenzy
Authorities warned that those who took money illegally could be charged and should return what they collected immediately.
Truck Accidentally Spills Cash on Freeway
An armored truck dropped loads of cash onto a freeway in Southern California on Friday, causing drivers to hop out of their cars and scramble to scoop up some of the money.
According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the money belongs to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
It scattered in Carlsbad along Interstate 5 near Cannon road when one of the truck’s doors popped open, allowing bags of cash to fall out. Footage of the chaos that happened afterward has since been posted to social media by people like fitness influencer Demi Bagby, who has over 14 million TikTok followers.
Her footage shows traffic at a standstill as people laugh and rush to grab armfuls of what appear to be mostly $1 and $20 bills.
Authorities Warn Thieves of Potential Charges
As many online pointed out, these people were actually committing a crime by taking off with the money.
Later that same day, CHP announced that it was working with the FBI to retrieve any money that was illegally taken.
“I highly suggest to anybody that picked up cash out here — it’s not your cash, so turn it in immediately to the CHP office in Vista,” CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin told reporters.
By mid-afternoon, about a dozen people went to the department to hand in what they had collected, though it’s unclear exactly how much was taken and returned.
Authorities also said they arrested a man and woman at the scene after they locked themselves out of their car with cash in hand.
By Friday night, law enforcement officials thanked those who had already come forward, adding that investigators were now planning to track down those who failed to do so using social media posts that showed their faces and license plates.
In fact, authorities later released 16 photos and videos still frames of people who stole cash, saying that they
“are encouraged to turn in the money within 48 hours in order to avoid potential criminal charges.”