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Federal appeals court allows implementation of Texas voter ID law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday stayed an injunction [opinion, PDF] that had blocked the Texas voter ID law [SB 5, PDF], allowing its implementation.

The injunction was put in place [JURIST report] by Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website] in late August after she found the revised law discriminatory against minority voters. Ramos had previously found that a 2011 law [SB 14 materials], which required voters to present a form of government-issued ID, discriminated [JURIST report] against blacks and Hispanics.

According to the appeals court:

The State has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits. SB 5 allows voters without qualifying photo ID to cast regular ballots by executing a declaration that they face a reasonable impediment to obtaining qualifying photo ID. This declaration is made under the penalty of perjury. ... The State has made a strong showing that this reasonable-impediment procedure remedies plaintiffs' alleged harm and thus forecloses plaintiffs' injunctive relief. When this court remanded the case to the district court, the scope of the mandate only included the discretion to consider "any interim legislative action with respect to SB 14" in fashioning an "interim remedy for SB 14's discriminatory effect. By enjoining SB 5 from taking effect on January 1, 2018, the district court went beyond the scope of the mandate on remand.
The court also opined that the stay of the injunction will allow time for the case to proceed to the court on the merits. "A temporary stay here, while the court can consider argument on the merits, will minimize confusion among both voters and trained election officials."

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