With a U.S. Supreme Court deadline looming, judges on a federal appeals court here Tuesday questioned whether accommodations could be made to protect minority voters and save Texas’s strictest-in-the-nation voter-ID law. Among the 15 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit who heard oral arguments Tuesday morning, there did not seem to be much support for striking down the law or blocking its use in November’s presidential election. But several questioned why Texas did not have more fallback provisions — as other states do — for voters who lack the kinds of identification that the state requires. Three other courts have said the Texas law discriminates against African American, Hispanic and poor voters, who are less likely to have the specified ID documents.
Despite those decisions, the appeals court has left the law in place. It is now under pressure from the Supreme Court to decide by July whether Texas’s approach is a responsible way to combat potential voter fraud or an impermissible Republican effort to discourage minority turnout.
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit reviewing that decision put aside the district judge’s ruling that the law was enacted by the Texas legislature with a discriminatory purpose, which would have required striking down the law. But the panel did find the law had a discriminatory effect.