On Wednesday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Texas’ controversial voter ID law, ruling that it is discriminatory towards minorities. The state was then ordered to find a way to fix the law before the general election in November.
The court majority wrote:
We conclude that the district court did not clearly err in determining that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The conservative appeals court issued the unexpected ruling on the same day as the deadline that had been imposed by the Supreme Court.
However, the ruling is not a complete win for voting rights activists. The court ruled on Wednesday that discrimination against minority voters was the effect of the law. That the purpose of the law was to discriminate was not decided and has been kicked back down to a lower court. According to the appeals court, the ruling on the second basis for challenging the law should wait until after November’s election.
Even though the law was struck down by the appeals court, it doesn’t look as if the laws are just going to vanish. Instead, the court has mandated that the lower court must find a way to maintain the intent of the law – preventing the rare occurrence of voter fraud – while making sure that the law doesn’t discriminate against minorities who may have increased difficulties obtaining identification required by the law.
In light of the impending election, we order the district court to file its order regarding the proper discriminatory effect remedy as soon as possible,” the court said in the majority decision. “The parties have expressed a willingness to work cooperatively with the district court to provide a prompt resolution of this matter, and we urge them to do so to avoid election eve uncertainties and emergencies.
The appeals court did not give explicit instructions to the lower court on how to accomplish this task, but seemed open to the possibility of modifications such as those recently made to Wisconsin’s voter ID law which allow those who have a difficult time obtaining ID to vote regardless.
In sum, the district court’s immediate responsibility is to ensure the implementation of an interim remedy for SB 14’s discriminatory effect that disrupts voter identification rules for the 2016 election season as little as possible, yet eliminates the Section 2 discriminatory effect violation,” the court ruled.
You can read the ruling in its entirety here:
Featured image via Crooks and Liars