Supreme Court Rejects Texas Appeal Over Voter ID Law, But The Fight's Not Over Yet | KERA News

Supreme Court Rejects Texas Appeal Over Voter ID Law, But The Fight's Not Over Yet

Jan 23, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Texas in its effort to restore its strict voter identification law on Monday.

The justices said they will not review a lower court ruling that held the law was discriminatory. That court ordered changes in the law before the November election.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in a brief statement that the court could take up the case at a later date because the case is continuing in federal district court in Texas. A hearing that had been set for Tuesday was rescheduled for next month.

Texas softened what election experts said was among the toughest voter ID measures in the nation. But Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton had wanted the Supreme Court to restore the law to its original state.

Paxton released a statement Monday about the court's decision: 

“While we are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court did not immediately take our case, Chief Justice Roberts made it very clear that the case will be an even stronger posture for Supreme Court review after further proceedings in lower courts. Texas enacted a common sense voter ID law to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and we will continue to fight for the law in the district court, the Fifth Circuit, and if necessary, the Supreme Court again.”

As written, the law required showing one of seven forms of photo identification, allowing concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year by a 9-6 vote that Texas had violated the federal Voting Rights Act based on testimony that Hispanics were twice as likely and blacks three times more likely than whites to lack an acceptable ID under the law. Lower-income Texas residents also were more likely to lack necessary documents to obtain a free state voting ID, according to experts who supported the challenge.

The Supreme Court has been without a ninth justice since Justice Antonin Scalia's death nearly a year ago. President Donald Trump has said he will nominate a successor soon, and that person could be on the bench if and when the case returns to the Supreme Court.

The Associated Press provided this report.