The time may be short for the Supreme Court to act on the state of Texas’s power to impose a new voter photo ID law, but the state nevertheless plans to pursue a prompt appeal in hopes of a quick final decision, perhaps during the Justices’ current Term. The state got permission on Monday to pursue an immediate appeal from a three-judge U.S. District Court in Washington. That court had ruled against the voter ID law in August. Texas officials already have taken steps to try to get the Justices to rule during the current Term on new redistricting plans for the Texas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives and for the two houses of its state legislature. The Justices will consider that appeal at their January 4 Conference, after the state gave up some of its filing rights in order to advance the case. That would be in time, if the Court accepts review, for a decision before the Justices’ summer recess in late June. (That case is Texas v. United States, docket 12-496). If the Court were to move ahead this Term on one or both of the new Texas cases, that would mean a further exploration of the scope — and even the constitutionality — of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Justices already have taken on an Alabama case that directly tests the constitutionality of Section 5. That case (Shelby County v. Holder, docket 12-96) is now set for oral argument on February 27. The Court, of course, has the option of simply sitting on the Texas redistricting and voter ID cases until after the Shelby County case is decided, but Texas is pressing to get resolution of both of its cases as soon as possible.
The District Court, in its August 30 decision, refused to allow Texas to enforce its new voter ID law (Senate Bill 14), finding that it would discriminate against minority voters, particularly those who are poor, in violation of Section 5. Without that court’s preclearance, Texas cannot implement the law. Texas also has been denied preclearance, under Section 5, of its new congressional and state legislative districting maps. That ruling, also from a three-judge district court in Washington, came on August 28.
Full Article: Speedy appeal on voter ID law : SCOTUSblog.