Texas appeals voter ID rulings to U.S. Supreme Court

Texas wants to take its voter identification battle to the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the justices to hear his arguments about why the state’s photo ID requirements for voting do not discriminate against Hispanics and African-American voters. “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy,” the Republican said in a statement. “Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it.”

Texas officials say the voter ID law prevents voter fraud, which Gov. Greg Abbott has called “rampant.”

Game Changer: The best analysis of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates 2014 a “game changer,” said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that “leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down,” long-time court-watcher Ian Millhiser wrote. Abortion foes had hoped the court would use the Texas abortion case as an opportunity to gut not just Roe v. Wade, but also 1992’s seminal Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that abortion laws creating an “undue burden” on women were unconstitutional. Instead, the court clarified and strengthened Casey while striking down two of Texas law H.B. 2’s key provisions 2014 strict building rules for abortion clinics and a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This could invalidate anti-abortion laws in another 25 states. The ruling is expected to have a monumental ripple effect, invalidating strict clinic laws in about half the states.

Abortion ruling a vindication for Wendy Davis and ‘unruly mob’

When the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas’ 2013 abortion restrictions as unconstitutional, it was a victory years in the making for former state Sen. Wendy Davis and her “unruly mob.”

Almost three years to the day after her 11-hour filibuster of the restrictive legislation, the high court’s ruling was in some ways a personal vindication for Davis — and a defining moment for her legacy — particularly after she backed away from the spotlight following a gubernatorial election loss in 2014. But it was also a victory for Texas abortion providers and the reproductive rights community, many of whom were among the thousands that packed into the Texas Capitol to be part of the filibuster. As Davis worked to fill hours of debate time and run the clock to midnight — when a 30-day special session would end — reproductive rights activists watched from the gallery and lined up along the rotunda and halls near the Senate chamber. Some were regulars at the pink dome; others had traveled from around the state. They stayed for as many hours as Davis remained standing on the Senate floor.

New Mexicans, others in abortion debate respond to SCOTUS ruling

After the United States Supreme Court announced Monday that a Texas law that limited where certain abortion procedures could take place was unconstitutional, national abortion rights activists weighed in and praised the court’s decision. The Supreme Court ruled against the Texas law 5-3. Whole Woman’s Health is a clinic that provides reproductive medical services in a handful of states across the country, including one in Las Cruces. Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a doctor with Whole Woman’s Health in Texas, said the decision is a win for Texas. “By striking down HB 2, the court has relieved one of so many obstacles in the path of justice for Texans and so many others around the country,” Kumar said in a statement on Monday.

Where does NM stand on Obama’s immigration order? It depends

The state’s top elected official and top attorney are on opposite sides of a key immigration case in front of the United States Supreme Court. At issue is an executive order by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The order would allow some 4 million immigrants to not only live without fear of deportation, but would provide a framework for a pathway to legal status. The order would only apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years, have a clean criminal record and have a child that lives in the country legally. Those opposing the legislation say it is an overbroad order that should have gone through the legislative branch, that is Congress, first.

Odds and Ends: Martinez off to campaign for Rubio

—Gov. Susana Martinez is hitting the presidential campaign trail. She will be campaigning with Marco Rubio in Jacksonville this Saturday, a day after going to Kansas. Martinez, of course, endorsed Rubio on Thursday. Kansas holds caucuses on Saturday, while Florida has primaries on March 15. Early voting begins Saturday, though hundreds of thousands have already cast ballots by mail in the Sunshine State.

Supreme Court abortion decision will impact NM

As the country’s highest court decides whether to uphold a controversial Texas law restricting abortion access, New Mexico advocates on both sides of the issue await the impact of the decision. The Texas law, known as HB2, requires all abortions be performed in hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers and all facilities that practice surgical abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital located within 30 miles. Twenty-two of Texas’ 41 abortion clinics have closed since the state passed HB2 in 2013. Aside from El Paso, no abortion clinics currently operate in the entire western half of the country’s second-largest state. Because of this, many abortion rights advocates argue that HB2 has already impacted New Mexico and that a U.S. Supreme Court decision to keep the law could create a new precedent.

Udall, Heinrich: Senate should vote on Obama’s Scalia replacement

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed condolences over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, while saying that President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement. Scalia died in Texas on Saturday, and the focus almost immediately turned to who would be the conservative justice’s replacement. Many conservatives, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said that Obama should not nominate a replacement because he is nearing the end of his second term. Obama will be in office until Jan. 20, 2017, more than 11 months from now.

First responder unions talk ‘fair share’

Following a memorial for those lost in the attacks of September 11, union members gathered for a press conference to address issues regarding first responders and collective bargaining. The union members gathered in a conference room in an Albuquerque hotel on Friday afternoon. At issue was a case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Friedrichs v. California Teachers concerns whether union employees are required to pay “fair share.” These are payments from non-union personnel who would benefit from union bargaining. Public sector union members and their supporters have argued that first responders will suffer without a strong collective bargaining unit.

NM swims against criminal justice reform tide

The aftermath of a heinous crime that saw a career criminal kill a Rio Rancho police officer is sparking talk of tougher crime laws. Next week, state lawmakers in the interim Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee will hear testimony on a bill to add crimes to New Mexico’s existing “three strikes” law, which assigns mandatory life in prison sentences to convicts of three violent crimes. Yet the local legislative doubling down on “tough on crime” laws—two Republican state representatives are proposing changes that would tighten New Mexico’s three strikes law—comes at a time with strong national momentum in the opposite direction. And it’s Republicans with national ambitions that, in many cases, have been making headlines for this. “Former [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry is going around the country bragging that he closed three prisons,” said state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who supports criminal justice reform.