Court: Texas voter ID law is discriminatory

Court: Texas voter ID law is discriminatory
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A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a Texas law requiring residents to have a photo ID to vote is discriminatory.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the law, known as SB 14, violates the Voting Rights Act and ordered a lower court to find an appropriate remedy as soon as possible that still respects the legislature’s goal of safeguarding the integrity of elections by requiring more secure forms of voter identification.

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The case, brought by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, was heard by the full 15-member court.

In April, the Supreme Court denied an advocacy group’s request to temporarily block the law from being enforced during the 2016 general election. The Campaign Legal Center worried that the Fifth Circuit wouldn’t rule on the case in time.

In its opinion Wednesday, the judges said the district court should avoid disrupting the upcoming election and focus first “on fashioning interim relief” from the discriminatory effects of its law in the months leading up to the November general election.

“The district court should then re-evaluate the evidence relevant to discriminatory intent and determine anew whether the legislature acted with a discriminatory intent in enacting SB 14,” the court said.

In a statement, Veasey said he’s elated that Texans will “once again be able to exercise one of their fundamental rights as U.S. citizens."

“There is no more sacred right as an American than the right to vote,” he said. “Today is a great day for Texas voters and a step forward in restoring Americans’ faith in our democracy.”

The 9-6 decision comes a day after a federal judge in Milwaukee blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The judge’s order allows voters who lack a photo ID to cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.

In a statement, Campaign Legal Center executive director Gerry Hebert said eligible voters will no longer be kept from casting a ballot in November.

“We have repeatedly proven — using hard facts — that the Texas voter ID law discriminates against minority voters,” he said. “The 5th Circuit’s full panel of judges now agrees, joining every other federal court that has reviewed this law. We are extremely pleased with this outcome.” 

Updated at 4:55 p.m.