Texas is preparing for a legal showdown next month in federal court over a new voter photo ID law passed by the Legislature. The law was blocked by the Justice Department over claims that it discriminates against minority voters. “We objected to a photo ID requirement in Texas because it would have had a disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder explained to a conference of black clergy in a speech about the continued need of protections under the Voting Rights Act. Despite legal maneuvering by Texas and Justice Department lawyers, a three-judge U.S. District Court panel has cleared the docket for a July 9 trial. And it remains questionable whether the new law can be implemented in Texas by the November general election.
Texas joins South Carolina as states that have filed lawsuits challenging the Justice Department’s rejection of voter ID laws. The states claim that the Obama administration is overreaching in its opposition to voter ID laws, which have been found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Texas should not be treated differently and must have the same authority as other states to protect the integrity of our elections,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. Minority-rights groups have sided with the Justice Department, saying the Texas law, which requires a valid photo ID, is aimed at suppressing voting by African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.