Texas won’t have to pay more than $300,000 in attorney fees to a group that challenged the state’s voter identification law in court, a federal judge in Washington ruled on Monday. The ruling came several weeks after the same judge, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, ordered Texas to pay $1 million in fees to groups that challenged the state’s redistricting plans. The two cases raised similar issues, Collyer said in Monday’s decision, but different facts led to the different outcome. Texas sought approval of its voter ID law from the U.S. Department of Justice, a process known as “preclearance.” Under a section of the federal Voting Rights Act, Texas was one of a number of jurisdictions required to get permission from a federal court or the Justice Department before making changes to election procedures.
The Justice Department refused to approve the voter ID law, finding Texas failed to show it wouldn’t have a discriminatory effect. Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging that decision as well as the constitutionality of the preclearance process. A three-judge panel sided with the Justice Department on the voter ID law and held off ruling on the preclearance issue.
Texas appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before the high court could rule on the voter ID law case, it struck down a central part of the preclearance process. Collyer said that, given the final outcome, the groups that intervened to challenge the voter ID law were not the winning parties and, as a result, weren’t entitled to fees.