U.S. Justice Department lawyers told a federal three-judge panel Tuesday that Texas legislators should not be shielded from testifying in a voter ID case. But lawyers for state Attorney General Greg Abbott said deposing statehouse Republicans to determine legislative intent of the new photo ID requirement amounted to a “fishing expedition” by Justice Department attorneys. The panel — Circuit Judge David Tatel, District Judge Robert Wilkins and District Judge Rosemary Collyer — is expected to rule soon on motions to expedite proceedings. A tentative trial date of July 30 is being considered, which would allow the photo ID law to be implemented for the November general election.
But Justice Department lawyers are skeptical the case can be resolved that quickly, and lawyers for the state have signaled they could appeal unfavorable procedural rulings to the U.S. Supreme Court. One such ruling could come on Texas’ claim of privilege and its motion to block the federal government from deposing GOP lawmakers to determine their intent in passing the law. Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell said the Justice Department is looking for a statement from a lawmaker that could be portrayed in court as discriminatory intent.