In the latest development in Texas’ battle with the Obama administration over the state’s voter ID law, the U.S. Department of Justice is urging a federal court to deny the state’s request to keep certain communications between lawmakers, staff and constituents out of upcoming court proceedings. In a court filing dated Thursday, the department argued that it should be allowed to “depose those legislators believed to have had the most active role in drafting, introducing, and advocating for SB 14.” The law requires that voters furnish photo identification before casting a ballot. The filing was in response to the state’s request for a protective order, in which it argues that the communications in question should be excluded based on state privilege.
In January, Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit against the department in a D.C. district court arguing that Texas’ voter ID law should be implemented immediately. Abbott recently amended the petition to directly challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, however. The section mandates that the Department of Justice or the federal courts review and preclear laws that affect voting practices in Texas and 15 other states that have had a history of racial discrimination.
Texas filed its petition for preclearance in July but was denied the request this month. The department ruled that the state did not submit enough information to prove the bill would not infringe upon the voting rights of minorities.