Federal judge blocks Texas voter ID law

Federal judge blocks Texas voter ID law

[JURIST] US District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Saturday filed a permanent injunction against the enforcement of a Texas voter ID law [SB 14 text]. The injunction follows a 147-page opinion [text, PDF] issued [JURIST report] on Thursday in which Ramos found that the voter ID law violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth [texts] Amendments of the US Constitution because it is racially discriminatory and places a substantial burden on the right to vote. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott [official website] argues that the law increases election integrity and voter turnout. Abbott stated [press release] that Texas will pursue an immediate appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website].

State voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] have been highly contested in dozens of US states in recent years. Rights groups argue that voter ID legislation is an attempt by conservatives to preserve their political power through voter suppression of minorities. Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are just a few of the states currently embroiled in litigation with state residents and civil rights advocacy groups over their voter ID legislation. Last week a Texas judge filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging SB 14 in state court, claiming that it violates the Texas Constitution. Also this week the US Supreme Court [official website] blocked [order, pdf] a similar Wisconsin voter ID law from going into effect before the upcoming election. In August 2013 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed [JURIST report] their petition against the law, rejecting [JURIST report] SB 14 on the grounds that the law would have a disproportionate impact on the state’s minority voters, and that the law is potentially discriminatory.