WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear a lower-court ruling that found Texas’s Republican-backed voter-ID law discriminates against blacks and Hispanics.
But the issue could soon return to the high court: Chief Justice John G. Roberts issued an unusual statement saying the court could revisit the issue after further deliberations at the federal district court level and there was “no barrier to our review” in a later appeal.
The law, one of the strictest voter-ID laws in the nation, had faced legal challenges from the former Obama administration, civil rights groups and individual citizens. Opponents argue it’s designed to disenfranchise blacks and Hispanics, who tend to vote Democrat, and say as many as 600,000 people would be barred from voting if the law took full effect.
Gerry Hebert, director of voting rights and redistricting for the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center, praised the Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case.
“I am extremely pleased that the justices recognize that this case does not merit review at this time,” Hebert said. “The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and every other federal court that has heard this case has ruled Texas’s photo voter ID law is discriminatory.”
Herbert called on Texas, with low voter turnout, to “ensure that every eligible voter in the state is able to cast a ballot going forward.”
Texas maintains the law is needed to prevent voter fraud, which the Obama administration and civil rights groups dispute.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken pledged to fight for the law 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,” Paxton said in a statement. “Texas enacted a common sense voter ID law to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and we will continue to fight for the law.”
The law allows only these government-issued IDs: a driver’s license, a concealed handgun license, a military ID card, a U.S. passport, but not ID cards for welfare recipients.
In July, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 9-6 that discriminated against blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It marked third straight court decision against the Texas law.