Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal On Texas Voter ID Law

Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal On Texas Voter ID Law
Illustration by Monica Fuentes

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up Texas's controversial voter photo ID law, therefore letting stand the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court's ruling that the law was unconstitutional because it was discriminatory against black and Hispanic people.

The high court's decision, however, does not settle the matter once and for all. Chief Justice John Roberts explained that the reason the justices declined to hear the case was because portions of it are still being litigated in lower courts — meaning Texas Republicans are likely bound to continue appealing the Fifth Circuit ruling to their heart's desire.

“While we are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court did not immediately take our case," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, "Chief Justice Roberts made it very clear that the case will be an even stronger posture for Supreme Court review after further proceedings in lower courts. Texas enacted a common sense voter ID law to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and we will continue to fight for the law in the district court, the Fifth Circuit, and if necessary, the Supreme Court again.”

After the Fifth Circuit found the voter ID law unconstitutional, last year, a special panel of judges still sent it back to a federal Corpus Christi federal court to decide whether lawmakers intended to discriminate against black and Hispanic people when writing the law, as the U.S. Department of Justice has charged in its lawsuit. That's what remains up in the air.

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A hearing on the case was scheduled for tomorrow, but the feds asked to reschedule the hearing to give the Trump Administration time to figure out whether the White House wants to continue fighting Texas. The rescheduled hearing will take place February 28.

During the general election, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, of Corpus Christi, approved temporary amendments to the photo ID law, allowing people who had a "reasonable impediment" to obtaining a photo ID to sign an affidavit explaining their impediment, offer alternative forms of ID, such as utility bills, and cast a ballot.

While there were very few, if any, complaints about this amended process across the state, and while reported cases of voter fraud have been found to be inconsequential, Republican leaders still for whatever reason fear that we all face a great threat of "rampant" voter fraud. Expect to see more fighting about the law in months to come.


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