Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled the Texas voter ID law is unconstitutional.
Proponents are saying that a temporary order by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed the voter ID law to be enforced in elections last year should still apply, and voters should continue to follow the law while the case moves through the legal process.
After a court ruling affirmed that Texas’ voter ID law discriminates against some voters, Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon was among those to cheer the ruling.
An election official checks a voter’s photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas. For Texas voters, there are fewer options than in other states.
In a sweeping ruling in 2014, a federal district court in Texas agreed with the plaintiffs about the effect the law had on minority voters.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signaled that the ruling wouldn’t deter the state from fighting to keep the measures in place.
The case will now go back to a lower court for further review.
The New Orleans panel sustained the lower court’s ruling that the law interacts with “social and historical conditions in Texas to cause an inequality in the electoral opportunities enjoyed by African-Americans and Hispanic voters”.
The 2014 district court ruling struck down Texas’ voter ID law, but it came just days before the November election.
Section 5, one of the parts of the act that was struck down, had forced certain state and local governments including Texas to get pre-clearance from the federal government before changing voting laws to ensure they were free of discrimination. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was critical to ending the harshest forms of voting discrimination of the Jim Crow era, and resulted in enormous gains in black voter registration and political representation, particularly in the South.
Texas Democrats – the underdogs in state politics for decades – scored a victory on Wednesday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton didn’t specify in a statement what he would do next.
The Justice Department had argued that the Texas law would prevent as many as 600,000 voters from casting a ballot because they lacked one of seven forms of approved ID. “I have seen this law be discriminatory towards voters”.
August 6 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the nation’s most effective piece of civil rights legislation.
Now the 5th circuit is sending the law back to the Corpus Christi court with the question of whether voter ID was enacted with discriminatory intent.
But civil rights advocates focused on the court’s decision to uphold Ramos’s finding that the ID law had a discriminatory effect, thus violating the federal Voting Rights Act. The case was heard by Ramos, an appointee of President Barack Obama, and she ruled in favor of Veasey in October 2014. “There were people who didn’t get to cast their vote and have it count”.
“I…am pleased that we… were able to prove that this legislation was intended to have a discriminatory effect: to diminish minority voting”, he said. The acceptable list is shorter than any other state’s.
Now, after the ruling of the 5th Circuit’s three-judge panel, the case can be appealed to the full 5th Circuit or directly to the Supreme Court.