U.S. Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law to Be Enforced in Upcoming Election

Oct 18, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Texas' voter ID law to be enforced for the Nov. 4 election. The law requires voters to show one of seven forms of approved identification when voting.

"We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that Texas' voter ID law should remain in effect for the upcoming election," the Texas Attorney General's office said in a statement, adding that the High Court has ruled that "voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections."

Bob Kengle, however, disagrees. Kengle is the co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"The Supreme Court was wrong to take a hands-off approach to the most extreme voter ID law in the country," said Kengle, in a statement. "The last thing the Supreme Court ought to do in response to a district court finding of intentional voting discrimination is to accept Texas’ excuses for using the discriminatory law in a general election.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed Texas' voter ID law to be used in the upcoming election, putting on hold a decision by a federal judge in Corpus Christi that had stuck down the law. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called Texas' voter ID law an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote and cited concerns about discrimination against African-American and Hispanic voters.

Saturday's decision from the Court was not signed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in a dissenting opinion [read the PDF here]. Justice Ginsburg said enforcing the law could deny thousands of eligible voters the right to vote. She said public confidence in elections may also be put in jeopardy.

Early voting in this fall's election begins on Monday, Oct. 20.

Saturday's decision from the U.S Supreme Court is likely not the end of the case. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hasn't yet ruled on the constitutionality of the law [read a PDF here of its Oct. 14 opinion], and it's expected it will then wind up back at the Supreme Court.

Texas "will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court's misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits," the Texas Attorney General's office said in its statement.

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