00:06 GMT +320 August 2018
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    DoJ Flips in Texas Photo ID Voting Case, Flops in Federal Court

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    Brad Friedman
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    On today's BradCast, Vice President Mike Pence used private email for state business while serving as Indiana's Governor. And, down in Texas, the US Department of Justice, after switching sides in a long-running voting rights case, bombs out, according to our guest who was in the courtroom for a remarkable hearing this week.

    Yes, VP Pence has been discovered to have used a private email server for state business as Governor of Indiana, even while running for Vice President and mercilessly criticizing Hillary Clinton for having done the same while Secretary of State. Unlike Clinton's email account, Pence's was actually hacked. That news follows a similar report that Trump's EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, also used a private email server for state business while serving as Oklahoma's Attorney General — and lied to Congress about it.

    Then, we're joined by Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern with his amazing report out of Texas, where he was in a federal courtroom this past week, to witness the latest hearing in the long-running case against the state's racially discriminatory Photo ID voting law. The hearing, he explains, was remarkable on a number of fronts. Not the least of which is the fact that, after years of successfully challenging the state Republicans' racist law side-by-side with private litigants, the U.S. Dept. of Justice, now under the control of Donald Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has switched sides in the case to join with Texas!

    The result, as Stern details, was encouraging, gob-smacking and, at times, hilarious. After the state's law, denying access to the polls for those without very specific types of state-issued IDs, has been found racially discriminatory in court after court for years (including by the most conservative U.S. Appeals Court in the land), the only real question now before the U.S. District Court Judge is whether or not Texas enacted their voting restriction with a discriminatory intent. If the law is found (again) to have been purposely designed to discriminate against racial minorities, the state could find themselves back under the Voting Rights Act's pre-clearance regime, requiring federal approval for any new laws related to elections.

    The DoJ, now standing with Texas in their call for the case to be dismissed, offered an argument that the Judge didn't appear to be buying, Stern reports — largely because the argument seemed to make no sense at all. Their argument, in short, is that the state legislature is working on a new version of the same law. Therefore, their intent while creating the previous version should no longer matter nor be held against them as a violation of the law or Constitution. At the same time, the state attempted to offer evidence that they failed to offer during the original trial, which turned out not to be actual evidence at all. Suffice to say, amidst a mountain of real evidence against them, the DoJ and Texas arguments "crashed and burned," says Stern, adding that "t was almost painful to watch!"

    This case, "goes way beyond Texas," he notes, citing some of the responses from a plaintiff attorney for the NAACP after the hearing, and a Democrat that the state's attorney inexplicably tried to blame for the law. "This is sort of testing the waters for many other states, even possibly for a national voter ID bill governing all federal elections. This is just the start. So we're really at the threshold of this battle, even though it feels like we've been waging it forever." There is a lot more in today's interview. Please tune in for it. Trust me. It's a very nice way to end this week.

    You can find Brad's previous editions here. And tune in to radio Sputnik three hours a day, five days a week, at 5 pm GMT.

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    Tags:
    rights and freedoms, Voting Rights Act, Race, 2016 US Presidential election, Department of Justice, GOP, Democrats, US Supreme Court, Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, Greg Abbott, Scott Pruitt, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Indiana, Texas, United States
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