Back in 2014, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that Texas’ voter ID law was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed on appeal in 2015, but did not overturn SB 14, instead returning it to the lower court for further action.
Yesterday (April 10), that court decided that not only is the law discriminatory against Black and Latinx people, but that the Republican legislators who created it breached their rights on purpose. As Gonzales Ramos concludes in her opinion: “This court holds, again, that SB 14 was passed with a discriminatory purpose in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
The voter ID law was enacted in 2011 and is frequently named among the strictest in the nation, as it restricts viable identification to forms that critics argue are difficult for people of color and impoverished people to obtain.
Gonzales Ramos’ new ruling essentially strikes down the law, though Texas officials are expected to appeal the decision. “We’re disappointed and will seek review of this ruling at the appropriate time,” said Marc Rylander, a spokesperson for the Texas attorney general, according to The New York Times.
In February, the Department of Justice pulled its support for the plaintiffs who challenged the law as discriminatory.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in Veasey v. Abbott. “This decision shows why it’s critically important for organizations like LDF and the other civil rights counsel in this case to press forward, even in the face of DOJ’s decision to stand down on laws that were created with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters,” LDF president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill said in a statement. “We cannot leave state and local jurisdictions to their own devices, in the face of such overwhelming evidence of discrimination, when it comes to protecting the right of all voters to participate equally in the political process.”