State officials and the minority rights groups suing Texas over its strict voter identification restrictions are headed back to court. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Tuesday over the state’s recent revisions to its 2011 voter identification law and whether those changes cure legal issues with the original law. The recent changes — which softened previous voter ID requirements considered among the toughest in the nation — were passed in response to court rulings that the 2011 law discriminated against Hispanic and black voters. Since Texas lawmakers passed the 2011 voter ID law, the state and the measure’s foes have faced off several times in court. This time around, they’ll largely focus on Senate Bill 5, a bill the Legislature passed earlier this year after courts found fault with the previous law.
Last year, the 5th Circuit ruled that the 2011 law disproportionately burdened minority voters, who were less likely to have one of seven forms of identification the state required them to show at the polls. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos upped the ante in April, ruling that the state discriminated against those voters on purpose. Her ruling raised the possibility she could invoke a section of the Voting Rights Act to put Texas’ elections laws back under federal oversight.
Following those rulings, Texas leaders proposed SB 5, a bill that mostly followed the lead of temporary voter ID rules Ramos put in place for the 2016 elections in an effort to ease the state’s requirements.