A federal court has ruled against a Texas law that would require voters to present photo IDs to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots in November.
A three-judge panel in Washington ruled Thursday that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.
The court ruled that the new voter identification law in Texas would have an unconstitutional impact on the right to vote for poor people and especially Hispanics and African-Americans - the same minorities who were protected earlier in the week from Republican redistricting by another federal court panel.
This is the third court ruling in the past three days out of the federal courts striking down Republican voter laws. A federal panel on Wednesday blocked a Florida registration measure from continuing in effect. South Carolina's strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse. A court ruling in the South Carolina case is expected in time for the November election.
In the opinion, drafted by U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel, the judges said that lawyers defending Texas' the Voter ID law, SB 14, "have only their client to blame."
"The State of Texas enacted a voter ID law that — at least to our knowledge — is the most stringent in the country," Tatel wrote. "That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty. And crucially, the Texas legislature defeated several amendments that could have made this a far closer case."
Attorney General Greg Abbott responded quickly, saying he would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box. Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana - and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail."