Supreme Court refuses to block Texas voter ID law

Poland could face legal chaos as authorities defy govt

In October 2014, the justices allowed Texas to enforce it in its pending November elections.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine School of Law notes the Court's order will put the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on a time frame "so that the issue can be resolved when it is not the last minute before the election".

The Supreme Court's guidance "prevents not only dawdling but intentional foot-dragging so as to allow the law to remain in effect for the November election", Hasen wrote. Friday's order was the second time the justices have refused to block the voter ID law in Texas.

There were no noted dissents to the order, and it suggested that the justices were looking for a way to reach consensus on a subject that has divided them in the past.

The justices said they would reconsider their decision on or after July 20 if the appeals court has not decided the case by then. Opponents renewed their request to block it this year, stressing the need for certainty leading into this year's elections.

"The court recognizes the time constraints the parties confront in light of the scheduled elections in November, 2016", the Supreme Court's order said.

In August 2015, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially upheld that ruling, saying parts of the law violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act through its "discriminatory effects". If neither of those happens by July 20, "an aggrieved party may seek interim relief from this court by filing an appropriate application", the high court said. Among the forms of identification accepted under the contested Texas law are a driver's license, a military ID, a US passport and a license to carry a handgun.

Before 2011, Texas required voters to show identification.

"Plaintiffs submitted no evidence of depressed voter turnout or registration - much less that any such effect on voting was caused by" the law, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said in court papers.

Opponents say that it could disenfranchise 600,000 voters who lack necessary identification, and that Texas has made it too hard for those to acquire it. A disproportionate number of people now unable to vote are poor Hispanic and black voters. He called voter-ID laws a "legitimate means to combat election fraud and safeguard voter confidence".

Against that backdrop is the Texas voter ID law, affecting more than 14 million voters this election cycle.

Related News: