Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the full bench of a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that found the state’s strict voter ID law illegally hindered minorities from casting ballots. The state launched its legal salvo in the voter ID court fight with multiple filings late Friday, including a clear signal from Paxton’s office that it will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a complex ruling that was largely interpreted as a narrow win for civil rights groups suing the state. The panel upheld one portion of a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi that found the law obstructed black and Hispanic voters and instructed the lower court to fix what amounted to a violation of the Voting Rights Act. It tossed one ruling that deemed the voter ID law equivalent to a poll tax and rejected another judgment from the lower court that found the law was motivated by racial bias, though the panel ordered the lower court to reconsider that portion of the case.
Paxton’s office filed a petition Friday asking the entire 5th Circuit to review two of the three decisions by the panel: that Texas’s voter ID law has a racially “discriminatory effect” that infringes on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and another that ordered the lower court to reexamine whether the Legislature wrote the law with a “discriminatory purpose.”
There’s no guarantee the state’s petition for what’s known as an “en banc” hearing, in which the entire court is asked to reconsider the case, will be granted. The only path left for the state if the 5th Circuit declined to review the case would be to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.