The Trump administration is abandoning the government’s six-year-old claim that Texas’ voter ID law was intended to discriminate against Hispanics and other minorities, signaling a new course in one of the signature voting rights cases brought by former President Barack Obama. The about-face came on the eve of Tuesday’s scheduled hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi. It also came a week after the U.S. Justice Department and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked for a delay in the case because the state legislature is considering changes to the law, which the federal courts already have found to have a discriminatory impact. In court filings Monday, the Justice Department again cited new efforts in the Texas Legislature to “rectify any alleged infirmities” with the 2011 voter identification law, including a “reasonable impediment or indigency exception.” A U.S. Justice Department spokesman said the government would remain a party to a broader discrimination lawsuit brought by a number of legal and civil rights groups.
Paxton’s office praised the federal government’s move. The Justice Department briefs on Monday said lawyers for the state “consent to the motion.” Texas officials have denied any allegations of intentional discrimination in the controversial voter ID law, considered one of the toughest in the nation.
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Although the decision was not unexpected, it sent shockwaves through legal rights groups that had partnered with the government in challenging the law. Some had warned that the Justice Department under incoming U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – whose nomination was bitterly opposed by many civil rights groups – would retreat from Obama’s fight against state photo ID requirements that critics say are designed to suppress minority voting.
“We’re absolutely outraged,” said Danielle Lang, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, a group involved in the multi-year legal battle over the Texas voter ID law, one of several passed by Republican-controlled states around the nation. “There haven’t been any changes in the facts. … Nothing has changed except for Jeff Sessions is running the Department of Justice.”
Full Article: Trump administration drops Texas voter ID claim – Houston Chronicle.