October 8, 2020 | News | No Comments
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Texas’s controversial voter ID law, the most severe in the country, has a “discriminatory effect” against minority voters, in what civil rights campaigners say is an important step towards justice for African-American, Latino, and low-income people suppressed under the rule.
The three judge panel determined that the law, passed by the state in 2011, violates what’s left of the Voting Rights Act after it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. The ruling itself comes just one day before the 50th anniversary of the Act, which was the product of the mass organizing and protests of the civil rights and black freedom movements.
“We recognize the charged nature of accusations of racism, particularly against a legislative body, but we also recognize the sad truth that racism continues to exist in our modern American society despite years of laws designed to eradicate it,” wrote the three-judge panel for the New Orleans court, which is known for being conservative.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, however, fell short of issuing a broad injunction against the 2011 law, instead determining that it must be sent to a lower district court to find an appropriate remedy. It was not immediately clear whether the state will continue to enforce the rule in the meantime.
This is not the first time a judge has ruled against the law. In 2014, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzoles Ramos overturned the rule on the grounds that it has “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans” and compared it to a poll tax. She noted that voter suppression under the law was vast, with over 600,000 registered voters in Texas lacking the required documentation.
However, Texas successfully appealed this ruling, and the law was in effect during the November 2014 election, thereby disenfranchising large numbers of voters. Wednesday’s decision is a blow against the 2011 rule but falls short of the Ramos ruling.
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