The next stage in the legal challenge to Texas’ voter ID law begins Wednesday morning in a federal courtroom in Corpus Christi. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who has already ruled that the Republican-backed voter ID law was enacted in 2011 with the intent to discriminate against minority voters, will confer with lawyers on how best to determine whether Texas should be penalized for violating the U.S. Voting Rights Act. One possible remedy, Ramos has acknowledged, would be to require Texas to gain U.S. Justice Department approval before making any future changes to election law or voting procedures. Ramos has ordered lawyers on both sides to be ready to discuss whether a hearing is needed on possible remedies and how long such a hearing might take, as well as potential deadlines for legal briefs.
The judge delayed a discussion of penalties until this month to give the Texas Legislature time to address her ruling during the regular session that ended May 29. “Additional legislative action will certainly inform the type of relief warranted,” she wrote in an April order setting Wednesday’s conference.
With an eye on the courtroom conference, Gov. Greg Abbott made changing the voter ID law a late-session emergency item. The Legislature responded by passing Senate Bill 5, adopting many of the changes Ramos had ordered to soften the law’s effects for the November 2016 election.
SB 5 provides a safety valve that allows registered voters to cast a ballot if they could not reasonably obtain a government-issued photo ID, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Ramos in an advisory filed last week.
Full Article: Court eyes next step in Texas voter ID challenge.