A federal appeals court on Tuesday reinstated Texas’ tough voter ID law for the November election, which the U.S. Justice Department had condemned as the state’s latest means of suppressing minority voter turnout. The ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocks last week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, who determined the law unconstitutional and similar to a poll tax designed to dissuade minorities from voting. The 5th Circuit did not rule on the merits of the law; instead, it determined it’s too late to change the rules for the upcoming election. Early voting starts Oct. 20. The law remains under appeal. For now, the ruling is a key victory for Republican-backed photo ID measures that have swept across the U.S. in recent years. The Texas law, considered the toughest of its kind in the nation, requires that an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters will need one of seven kinds of photo identification to cast a ballot.
The Justice Department says more than 600,000 of those voters, mostly blacks and Hispanics, lack eligible ID.
In her ruling last week, Gonzales Ramos, an appointee of President Barack Obama, called the law an “unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quickly sought an emergency ruling from the conservative-leaning appeals court before the upcoming election. Abbott is on the ballot as the Republican nominee for governor.