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On Saturday, the Supreme Court allowed use of Texas’ voter identification law, SB 14, before and during the Nov. 4 election. The law had originally been struck down by a federal court for discrimination, before that court’s order was temporarily blocked by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That block had been subject to a number of emergency challenges by minority groups and the Obama administration. Although a vote count was not released for the Supreme Court order, Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissent, supported by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
This election will mark the first time SB 14 is applied for a federal election. The law, one of the strongest of its kind in the nation, sets what voter identification is presentable come election time.
According to the bill summary, voters can present:
- “a driver’s license, election identification certificate, or personal identification card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation;
- a United States military identification card that contains the person’s photograph that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation;
- a United States citizenship certificate issued to the person that contains the person’s photograph;
- a United States passport issued to the person that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation; or
- a license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person by DPS that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation. “
The law had previously been struck down in federal court after a judge ruled that the law had been passed with discriminatory intent. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the federal court ruling and upheld use of the law last week. This Supreme Court decision does not uphold the law in total, but instead allows for application of the law while the appeal against the federal ruling takes place before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Texas has argued that SB 14 is not discriminatory, despite allegations that its strictures disproportionately affect minority voters. A spokesperson for Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate, said that “[the state] remains confident that the district court’s misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections”, according to the Wall Street Journal.
US Attorney General Eric Holder, in speaking to the Wall Street Journal, said “It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate.”
Featured image from Shutterstock
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