[JURIST] US District Judge Nelva G. Ramos found [opinion, PDF] Monday that a controversial Texas voter ID law [materials] was passed in part with discriminatory intent. The plaintiffs argued [Reuters report] that the law burdened minority voters who are more likely to not carry identification. They say such a burden was intended by Texas Republicans to suppress voters who tend to favor Democrats. While the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] held that there was sufficient evidence to prove discriminatory intent, the court nevertheless remanded the case to reexamine such evidence. Ramos found that the drafters implemented unduly strict terms with an awareness of the law’s likely disproportionate impact. Ramos further stated that the law’s strict terms do not justify Texas’s stated purpose-to combat voter fraud. While the ruling may effectively strike down the law [NYT report], Texas officials have suggested the state’s plan to file an appeal.
Since being signed into law in 2011 by former governor Rick Perry, the law has been a contentious issue for the Texas legislature, citizens and judiciary. In February the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] introduced a motion to withdraw [JURIST report] from the case, and abruptly reversed its original stance that the bill was created with discriminatory intent. In January the US Supreme Court [official website] declined to hear an appeal [JURIST report] involving the law. In September a federal judge ordered Texas to revise its voter ID materials [JURIST report], as it had been found to not comply with an order to relax the law.