A federal court’s decision on Thursday to block Texas’s voter-ID law could have implications for other states currently addressing similar laws, one attorney in the Texas case said.
A three-judge panel ruled on a law that would require voters to show a photo identification before casting a ballot, saying that the state failed to show it would not disproportionately affect blacks, Latinos, and the poor, the Associated Press reported.
“We find that Texas has failed to make this showing—in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, SB 14 will likely have a retrogressive effect,” the court’s opinion said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil-rights groups have said that the Texas law could keep some 1.5 million voters in the state away from the voting booths in November, the majority of whom are blacks and Hispanics. Minorities are less likely to have any of the six acceptable documents under the law, according to the ACLU.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is attending the Republican National Convention, told Fox News that the court's decision was "deeply disappointing." He said he would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“[The court] looked at the law and said the issue isn’t that Texas has a voter-ID law, it’s that the legislature rejected things that could have made the law less onerous,” said Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel and senior deputy director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.
Some of those measures to make it more accessible to people included opening the government offices on the weekends or after-hours, providing fee waivers for indigent persons, and reimbursing the costs to obtain required documentation, Greenbaum said.
“The message that goes beyond Texas is that ... states have to look at providing ways for people to get the ID they need,” he said. “And if they don’t, they’re doing so at their own peril.”
The same questions have come up in a voter-ID case in South Carolina, which Grenbaum said "immediately could be affected" by the ruling on the Texas law.
Texas, which made references to taking the case to the Supreme Court if S.B. 14 failed to get preclearance, has several possible ways it can move forward. One of them, Greenbaum said, is adjusting the law to make it easier for people to obtain the appropriate photo ID, a move the state of Georgia made in 2006 after a court struck down its voter-ID law.
“After that, Georgia’s law survived the legal changes,” said Greenbaum, who was also a counsel in that case.