Repeating its argument that its controversial new photo ID requirement for Texas voters is now in operation, the state on Thursday asked a federal court in Washington to put an end to a case testing that law’s validity. The state filed a two-page motion to dismiss the case. That, however, could encounter resistance from the Obama administration, which believes the law impairs minorities’ voting rights and wants to block Texas from enforcing any such law. “Senate Bill 14 [the photo ID law] is now in full effect and being implemented in Texas,” according to Texas’s motion, filed in U.S. District Court in the case of Texas v. Holder (District Court docket 12-128). That court ruled a year ago that the law would violate the voting rights of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court in late June sent that case back to the district court, to reconsider in the wake of the decision in the Voting Rights Act case of Shelby County v. Holder. Texas’s motion to dismiss the case altogether appeared likely to set up a new courthouse confrontation with the Obama administration, because Justice Department lawyers are pressing federal courts to put all Texas laws governing voting under a new form of federal court supervision, barring enforcement until any such law gets cleared in Washington. Texas is vigorously opposing that effort.
Two days after the Supreme Court decided the Shelby County case, and on the day the Justices told the district court to take a new look at the Texas photo ID law, officials of the state have insisted that there was no longer any legal impediment to enforcement of that requirement, and they began taking steps to implement it across the state.
In the Shelby County decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas and other states long required to get clearance in Washington for new election laws and methods – because of past history of racial bias in voting — were at least temporarily free of that obligation. It did so as the Court struck down the coverage formula that determined which jurisdictions would have to submit to so-called “preclearance” in Washington under the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5.
The decision, however, did not disturb the legality of Section 5 itself and the Obama administration, along with lawyers for civil rights and minority voter advocacy groups, are now seeking to put Texas back under Section 5 under an alternative coverage provision in the 1965 law (Section 3). If that were to happen, Texas could not enforce any new voting requirement — including the photo ID law — if such a provision interfered with minority voters’ chance to take full part in elections in the state.
Full Article: Texas moves to protect voter ID law : SCOTUSblog.