Justice Department Will Withdraw From Texas Voter ID Law Challenge
01 March, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Eileen Guzman
Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this may not be the last shift on voting issues from the department. The move is not a surprise following Trump's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and Sessions' defense of voter ID laws.
The Justice Department has revoked a brief filed in federal district court opposing a Texas law requiring voters to show identification at the polls.
Judge Ramos determined that the law was racially discriminatory after she found that over 600,000 voters in Texas did not possess any form of qualifying photo identification. DOJ says those efforts should be allowed to proceed.
The Justice Department's sudden reversal in the case aligns with Sessions' longstanding support for voter ID laws.
. The center is challenging the current law in court.
He and others have argued that hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters in the state lack the required ID, such as a driver's license or gun permit, and that many of them would have a hard time acquiring one.
A late Monday court filing by the DOJ seeks to offer the state legislature an opportunity to write a new law without the discriminatory conditions identified by Judge Ramos, according to the Dallas Morning News.
A ruling against Texas could ultimately put it back on the list of states needing federal approval (called "preclearance") before changing election laws.
Texas' law is said to be "the nation's strictest voter photo ID law that leaves more than half a million eligible voters who do not have the requisite types of ID from fully participating in the democratic process".
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Despite the feds' withdrawal, Hebert and the other plaintiffs in the case intend to continue fighting the law in federal court. The Obama Justice Department had argued that Texas Republicans passed the law because they felt "threatened by explosive growth in minority populations" who tend to favor Democrats.
The new administration sent signals nearly immediately that it might switch sides.
The new administration, in papers due to be filed later today in Corpus Christi, contended that it was voluntarily forfeiting its constitutional claim because the Texas legislature is now considering an alternative measure on voter identification. That motion was granted. Ramos was ordered to quickly tweak the law to let more voters participate in the November election while considering more permanent fixes.
In Texas, some rural towns are so secluded that residents would have to drive over 100 miles in order to get one of the IDs required to vote.
Calling it a "surgical assault and attack on voting rights", Cook County Clerk David Orr issued a statement in response to the Trump administration abandoning the long-standing case against the 2011 Texas voter ID law.
"I think the bigger story here is that this gives an indication of the position the U.S. Justice Department [under the Trump Administration] is likely to take in future voting rights cases and in other voting rights cases pending around the country", Rave says.
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