Texas’ new voter identification law fully absolves the state from having discriminated against minority voters in 2011, and courts should not take further action in a battle over the state’s old voter ID law, President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice argued in a legal filing Wednesday. “Texas’s voter ID law both guarantees to Texas voters the opportunity to cast an in-person ballot and protects the integrity of Texas’s elections,” the filing stated. Federal lawyers were referring to Senate Bill 5, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last month. It would soften a 2011 voter ID law — known as the nation’s most stringent — that courts have ruled purposefully burdened Latino and black voters. If allowed to take effect, the law would allow people without photo ID to vote if they present alternate forms of ID and sign affidavits swearing a “reasonable impediment” kept them from obtaining what was otherwise required.
“S.B. 5 addresses the impact that the Court found in [the previous law] by dramatically reducing the number of voters who lack acceptable photographic identification,” the justice department argued, adding that U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos should “decline any further remedies.”
The filing came as Ramos is weighing whether SB 5 fixes legislative discrimination she and other courts have identified, and it highlighted Trump’s dramatic departure from his predecessor on voting rights issues.
Former President Obama’s Justice Department originally teamed up with civil rights groups against Texas throughout the long-winding legal battle over the ID law, known as Senate Bill 14. The civil rights groups argue SB 5 doesn’t absolve lawmakers from intentionally discriminating against minority voters by passing the 2011 law and wouldn’t properly accommodate those voters going forward.