WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court recently dealt a blow to Texas' controversial voter identification law.
On Jan. 23, in Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, et al., Petitioners v. Marc Veasey et al, the Supreme Court declined Gov. Greg Abbot's request to review the rejection of Texas Voter ID law SB 14 by a lower court. The court offered no explanation for its decision but noted that it would be free to reconsider the decision in the future.
“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 5th Circuit, and if necessary, the Supreme Court again,” said Texas Attorney General in a statement released by his office.
This is not the first blow that has been dealt to the law; in October 2015 a U.S. district judge ruled that it “constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.” Then in August of the same year, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the law had a discriminatory effect and that the state was not able disprove any the earlier criticisms of the law.
In its current form, SB 14 requires voters to present a Texas driver's license, a Texas Election Identification Certificate, a personal identification card, a Texas license to carry a handgun, a United States military identification card, a United States citizenship certificate or a U.S. passport, in order to cast a ballot.
Texas 33rd District Congressman Marc Veasey was named as the opposition to the request.
“I’ve fought Texas’ restrictive photo Voter ID law to ensure that Texans have unfettered access to the ballot box, especially a law that I knew from my time in the state legislature would discriminate against minorities,” he told the Southeast Texas Record.
The Campaign Legal Center, one of the first plaintiffs to file a claim against SB 141, agrees with Veasey's assessment of the law.
“It was clear from the beginning the law would have a serious impact on minority voters in an unjustified manner,” Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center, told the Southeast Texas Record. “We feel it disproportionately effects the poor, minorities and the elderly. And every court that has reviewed the law has agreed.”
She stated that according to the organization's findings, 6,000 registered voters would not have access to the necessary identification under the law.
Veasey said voting laws should maintain the presumption that the person appearing to vote is qualified to do so and poll workers should not serve as arbiters of an individual's fitness to vote.
“If their name is not on the voter roll and they have a voter registration card or any other document indicating their address and identity, they should be allowed to cast a regular ballot,” he explained.
The Texas Attorney General's office declined to offer further comment for this story.