A Texas law requiring voters to show photographic identification before casting a ballot was rejected by a federal court in Washington, marking the second time this week that election rules approved by Republican Governor Rick Perry were found to disenfranchise Hispanic and black citizens.
Thursday's’s ruling by a special three-judge panel marks the first time a U.S. court weighed in on the Obama administration’s effort to use the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to block a state from requiring photo ID to vote. Texas is one of eight states that passed such photo ID laws last year.
“Uncontested record evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining SB 14-qualifying ID will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty,” according to the ruling written by U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic President Bill Clinton.
Tatel’s ruling was joined by U.S. district judges Rosemary Collyer and Robert Wilkins. Collyer was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush and Wilkins was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Earlier this week, a different three-judge panel found that the state’s redistricting plan, crafted by the Republican-controlled legislature, discriminated against Hispanics and blacks in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Collyer was one of the judges on that panel as well.
Texas election officials had told the court that they needed a ruling by the end of the month in order to enforce the law in November.
Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, said she couldn’t immediately comment on the ruling.
An appeal of today’s ruling would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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