Federal Court Blocks Most Of Texas Voter Suppression Law

A federal judge in Texas has blocked a key provision of the state’s recent voter suppression law that limited the ability of outside groups to register new voters.

The law, which was passed by the Republican-held legislature in an emergency session last year, placed new restrictions on groups like the League of Women Voters, making it significantly more difficult for them to register voters. The law also imposed a strict voter ID requirement for the state, which has since been blocked by the Department of Justice.

In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa blocked many of the provisions restricting voter registration groups until a trial on whether the entire law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act can be held.

The Houston Chronicle has more:

Under the ruling, the state may no longer require that deputy voter registrars live in Texas, a law Voting for America said prevented it from organizing voter registration drives.

It also may not prevent deputy registrars from registering voters who live outside their county; prevent organizations from firing or promoting employees based on the number of voters registered; prevent organizations from making photocopies of completed voter registration forms for their records; or prevent deputy registrars from mailing completed applications.

Though Costa is a recent Obama appointee, he also served as a law clerk for two unapologetic conservatives: former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Appeals Court Judge A. Raymond Randolph.

Yesterday’s ruling is a major victory not only for voter groups, but also communities who are disproportionately helped by registration drives, including minorities and poorer citizens.

To learn more about the law’s impact, read ThinkProgress’ on-the-ground coverage from Texas last year.