A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Texas’s new voter-ID law can go into effect, delivering a devastating blow to the Democrats who tried to block the law.
The original law passed a few years ago had been repeatedly blocked after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it would unfairly disallow illegal immigrants from voting in elections.
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Washingtontimes.com reports: But the state legislature went back and made changes, and the 5th Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, now says the new version cures what ailed the previous one.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling.
“The court rightly recognized that when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5 last session, it complied with every change the 5th Circuit ordered to the original voter ID law,” he said. “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.”
The new law includes a longer list of ID options that are acceptable for voting purposes, allows people to use expired identification for even longer and requires mobile dispensaries to dole out election identification documents to those who might not otherwise have a valid ID for voting purposes.
A lower court had ruled that because the original law was illegal, and the new version updates the old law, it doesn’t eliminate the original discrimination “root and branch.”
But Judge Edith H. Jones, writing for the appeals court majority, said the lower court overlooked the “obvious improvements” in the new law.
“To the contrary, all of the evidence supports that SB 5 was designed to remedy every defect claimed in the plaintiffs’ evidence and to supply indigent voter protections recommended by this court’s remand order,” she said.
Judge Jones, a Reagan appointee to the bench, was joined by Judge Patrick Higginbotham, also a Reagan pick.
Judge James E. Graves Jr., an Obama appointee, wrote a dissent defending the lower court’s ruling and saying the updated law can still be judged based on the original, discriminatory law.
“Nothing cuts the thread of intent here. No passage of time cuts the thread,” he wrote.