Texas Voter ID Law Deemed Unconstitutional by 5th Circuit

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fifth Circuit has just ruled that a Texas law requiring persons to produce a government-issued ID before casting their ballots is discriminatory and is in violation of the Voting Rights Act, according to Reuters. What is most surprising is that this circuit court is generally known to be one of the most conservative in the nation.

The decision was lauded by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "This decision affirms our position that Texas's highly restrictive voter ID law abridges the right to vote on account of race or color and orders appropriate relief before yet another election passes," she said.

Not Complete Unanimity

The en banc court ruled 9-6 that the Texas voter ID law had a discriminatory effect, but the various judges differed with each other on which aspects of the law violated key points in the Voting Rights Act.

Nonetheless, the court adopted a somewhat conciliatory tone considering the state of race tensions within the United States: "We acknowledge the charged nature of accusations of racism, particularly against a legislative body, but we must also face the sad truth that racism continues to exist in our modern American society despite years of laws designed to eradicate it."

Stop Gap Measures

The timing of the ruling is particularly inopportune -- particularly for voters of the supposed impacted groups effected by the Texas law. The circuit remanded the case back to the lower district court and ordered temporary injunctive relief in light of the November presidential election.

More Coming

Similar voter ID laws from states across the country are under the legal microscope. In North Carolina, a law also demands voters to show a government issued ID before voting. Similarly, another law is in court in Wisconsin -- though that federal judge has found a middle ground: vote even if you cannot produce ID, but sign an affidavit as to why.

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