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January 14, 2019
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This month the U.S. Justice Department petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to take no further action against the voter ID law passed in that state in 2011 - SB 14, which has faced numerous legal challenges - because the state’s Legislature has passed another measure, SB 5, remedying the problems with the original law.
“As amended by S.B. 5, Texas’s voter ID law both guarantees to Texas voters the opportunity to cast an in-person ballot and protects the integrity of Texas’s elections,” the DOJ’s court filing stated. “S.B. 5 thus removes any ‘discriminatory effect’ or intent the Court found in S.B. 14 and advances Texas’s legitimate ‘policy objectives’ in adopting a voter ID law.”
The request completes the reversal of the DOJ under the Trump administration from the stance taken by the Obama administration on the Texas law. In February the agency told U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos it was dropping its efforts to prove the law was intentionally discriminatory.
It will be up to that same judge to decide whether the federal court for Texas’ Southern District will comply with the DOJ’s request. She’s already ruled against Texas’ voter ID law twice. And plaintiffs have asked the court to enjoin SB 5, arguing that it doesn’t fix the problems the court found with SB 14.
“SB 5 maintains the same unexplained picking and choosing of “acceptable” photo IDs for in-person voting - accepting IDs disproportionately held by Anglo voters and rejecting IDs disproportionately held by minority voters - that led the Court, in part, to its discriminatory intent finding. (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, HILL [WASHINGTON, D.C.])