Texas will file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to keep its controversial voter identification law in place, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said Tuesday. A federal appeals court ruled July 20 that the stringent law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters. The state will soon file an appeal to “protect the integrity of voting in the state,” said Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander. He declined to specify whether Paxton would file an emergency appeal or go through the standard process, which could make it less likely the stringent ID rules will be in place for November’s elections. In July, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Texas voter ID law violates the federal Voting Rights Act. Rather than strike down the law in its entirety, the judges ordered a lower court to find a temporary solution for disenfranchised voters as quickly as possible. “The primary concern of this court and the district court should be to ensure that SB 14’s discriminatory effect is ameliorated…in time for the November 2016 election,” Judge Catharina Haynes wrote.
Last week, a federal judge approved a plan to allow those without government-issued IDs to vote in Texas, by signing a declaration of citizenship and presenting some proof of residence in the state. Rylander called the agreement an “interim remedy” that will suffice while the case continues its convoluted path through the court system.
Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas Republicans have been a staunch supporters of the voter ID law, which they argue is a necessary protection against voter fraud.
Opponents say it’s a solution in search of a problem and point to studies that show voter fraud is, statistically, a non-issue. Instead, they argue, the law serves to disenfranchise minority voters, who are less likely to possess the forms of ID that the law requires. In May, Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the law was “the clearest manifestation of modern day suppression tactics.”