Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not hear arguments at this time over Texas’s photo ID law, which the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as racially discriminatory last summer.
“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,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement.
“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.”
The decision is the latest in the years-long battle over the law, which plaintiffs argued discriminated against Black and Latino voters in the state.
Opponents argued it was the strictest law of its kind in the nation, allowing, for example, a voter to use a concealed gun permit to vote, but not an identification card from one of the state’s flagship universities.
Plaintiffs challenged the law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, among other claims, arguing that Texas’s strict ID requirement both had the effect of discriminating against minority voters and that the legislature passed the law with the intent to discriminate. The Supreme Court’s decision today leaves intact the determination that the ID requirement has a discriminatory effect.
“We are pleased the Supreme Court has declined to hear this case, leaving intact an appeals court ruling that found the law to have a discriminatory effect on minority voters,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Texas photo ID law burdens the rights of hundreds of thousands of voters and would-be voters, and restrictions like this should have no place in our democracy today.”
The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, challenged the Texas law in September 2013.
That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the groups include the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.
“It has been an incredible waste of taxpayer monies and state resources to challenge what any reasonably objective person knows — that the law is plainly and simply discriminatory against racial and ethnic minorities,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “Judges appointed by presidents of both political parties have so held repeatedly.”
The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court not to take the case in a brief late last year.