Supreme Court Says Texas Can Implement Voter ID Law This November


Texans will be required to present one of seven forms of identification when casting their ballot after the Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that the state’s controversial measure can be implemented for the upcoming November election. In an unsigned order, a majority of the justices rejected the Justice Department and civil rights groups’ request to stop the law. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The decision comes after U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled last week that the initiative disenfranchises approximately 600,000 mostly black and Latino voters who lack the proper identification and struck down the measure. The Fifth Circuit court of appeals then put that ruling on hold.

But in a scathing dissent, Ginsburg blasted the decision. “The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” she wrote on Saturday, adding, “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

In her original 143-page opinion, Ramos did not find identify direct racial intent in the Texas legislature passing the law in 2011, but concluded that the sponsors of the voter ID measure “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.” Early voting begins on Monday in Texas.

The Supreme Court justices have recently blocked a voter ID measure from being implemented in Wisconsin, but allowed certain limits to take effect in North Carolina and Ohio.