Source: Josh Gerstein /Politico
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that a stricter voter ID law passed by the state legislature violates the federal Voting Rights Act and is unconstitutional.
“Evidence in the record demonstrates that proponents of SB 14 within the 82nd Texas Legislature were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate. As such, SB 14 violates the VRA as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Unite[d] States Constitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales-Ramos wrote in a 147-page opinion released Thursday evening and posted here.
“Under the injunction to be entered barring enforcement of SB 14’s voter identification provisions, Texas shall return to enforcing the voter identification requirements for in-person voting in effect immediately prior to the enactment and implementation of SB 14,” wrote Gonzales-Ramos, an Obama appointee.
Civil rights groups and the Justice Department argued during a recent trial that the enhanced voter-ID rules in the law made it harder for minorities to vote and that requiring voters to get acceptable ID amounted to a poll tax.
The Texas Attorney General’s office plans to appeal the decision.
“The State of Texas will immediately appeal and will urge the Fifth Circuit to resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election,” Lauren Bean, Deputy Communications Director said in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional so we are confident the Texas law will be upheld on appeal.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said the ruling affirms that the law is an “unnecessary” and “unfair” voting restriction.
“Even after the Voting Rights Act was seriously eroded last year, we vowed to continue enforcing the remaining portions of that statute as aggressively as possible,” Holder said. “This ruling is an important vindication of those efforts.”