The war over this election’s voting rules is heating up, drawing crowds this week to a closely watched federal court trial in Washington, D.C., where a three-judge panel is hearing arguments for and against a contested Texas voter ID law. “This is certainly something that is going to have broad reverberations beyond Texas,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. The center is on the legal team representing Latino and civil rights leaders who have intervened in the case. Immediately at issue is whether the Texas law discriminates against minority voters by requiring a photo ID at the polls. But the case could reverberate all the way up to the Supreme Court. Texas has also challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of discrimination to obtain Justice Department approval before changing their voting rules.
The Texas law took effect in May 2011, but the DOJ declined to preclear it under Section 5, which covers Texas. Attorney General Eric Holder, who recently vowed to aggressively fight restrictive voting laws, argued that the ID law would harm minority voters. The state went to court both to defend its law and to challenge Section 5 as unconstitutional. In the U.S. District Court trial, which is expected to last through the end of the week, the three-judge panel will consider only the question of whether the Texas law deserves preclearance. The court will only address the constitutional challenge to Section 5 in the event that preclearance is denied.
Full Article: Judges Will Rule on Texas Voter ID : Roll Call Politics.