Federal appeals court says Texas’ voter ID law isn’t racist
Political conservatives logged a legal victory on Friday when a federal appeals court upheld a much-debated Texas voter identification law that voter rights advocates say is racist.
The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled that the the Texas voter ID law, widely criticized by Democrats and advocates for marginalized groups, does not discriminate against Black and Latino voters, The New York Times reported.
The 2-1 decision marked the first time a federal court upheld the controversial law, the Times reported.
Critics maintain voter identification measures discriminate against the impoverished, seniors, people of color, the disabled and anyone else who might be less likely to have identification. Such laws affect the ability of people in such groups to cast ballots, critics have said.
The original law passed by Texas’ Republican-controlled state legislature in 2011 required that voters show a driver’s license, passport or some other form of government-issued photo identification if they wanted to vote. The law took effect in 2013, the Times reported.
Earlier, a federal appellate court found the law to have a discriminatory effect on Black and Latino voters, according to the Times. Last year, the Texas legislature loosened the law to allow would-be voters who lacked approved forms of identification to sign an affidavit explaining why and show an alternative form of ID, such as a bank statement, the Times reported.
A federal judge struck down the amended measure but the courts allowed it to take effect while the judicial panel reviewed it, reported the Times.
The panel that issued Friday’s ruling letting the law fly wrote that concerns about voter intimidation were “wholly speculative” and said the amended law successfully cured “all the flaws” of the original measure.
The Times reported that an appeal to the Fifth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court was likely.
“Our view today is the same as it has been since the first day of this litigation— Texas’ voter ID law is discriminatory,” Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia, a democrat from Dallas and chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told the Times. “We are undeterred by today’s decision and we will continue to fight against laws that aim to suppress the vote.”
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