A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show identification at polls, saying it placed an unconstitutional burden on voters and discriminated against minorities. In a ruling that follows a two-week trial in Corpus Christi of a lawsuit challenging the law, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos also found that it amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. “The court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” Ramos wrote in a 147-page ruling.
The case is part of a strategy by the Obama administration to challenge voting laws it says discriminate by race in order to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that freed states from strict federal oversight. “We are extremely heartened by the court’s decision, which affirms our position that the Texas voter identification law unfairly and unnecessarily restricts access to the franchise,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement following the ruling.
“Even after the Voting Rights Act was seriously eroded last year, we vowed to continue enforcing the remaining portions of that statute as aggressively as possible,” Holder said. “This ruling is an important vindication of those efforts.”
But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said the state would “immediately” appeal Ramos’s ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and hoped to avoid confusion ahead of the November elections.