Supreme Court declines to hear Texas appeal on voter ID laws

Supreme Court declines to hear Texas appeal on voter ID laws

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court's decision striking down Texas' tough voter ID law, handing voting rights advocates at least a temporary victory.

The Texas Attorney General's Office has defended the law as necessary to prevent voter fraud and asked the Supreme Court to hear his arguments about why the state's voter ID requirements do not discriminate against Hispanic and black voters.

"While we are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court did not immediately take our case, Chief Justice Roberts made it very clear that the case will be an even stronger posture for Supreme Court review after further proceedings in lower courts", Paxton said in a statement. Challengers have won every court case since, but the law had remained in effect.

The high court in September refused to hear the case, prompting a backlash from Republicans.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country, last summer upheld a district court's finding that 600,000 people, disproportionately minorities, lack the specific kind of identification required to cast a vote - a driver's license, military ID, passport or weapons permit, among them - and that it would be hard for many to secure such IDs.

By comparison, Virginia has 13 voter ID options, Wisconsin has 12 options, IN has 12 and Kansas has 17.

Testimony in the lower court revealed that Hispanic voters were twice as likely as white voters to lack the identification, while black voters were three times as likely.

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Around 608,000 registered voters in Texas do not have proper SB 14 ID, which represents 4.5 percent of all registered voters in Texas, according to the case record.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the high court's decision could prompt state lawmakers to fashion their own Voter ID law as part of the current legislative session now five months in.

Despite the previous ruling that, in effect, found the state's law to have a discriminatory effect, GOP leaders have sought to appeal the decision.

Ramos approved an interim plan for the November 8 election under which Texans could present a certified birth certificate, utility bill or paycheck at the polls and sign an affidavit stating why they could not get SB 14 ID.

In recent years, voter ID laws have come under fire in states across the nation. The court ordered a lower court to fix the way the law disproportionately affects minorities. A hearing on that portion of the case had been scheduled Tuesday by a federal judge in Corpus Christi, but was delayed until February 28 after the U.S. Department of Justice late Friday moved to allow more time for the Trump Administration to review whether to continue challenging the state's voting requirements.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in a separate case, allowed Texas to implement its law, which it quickly did.

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