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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Texas Voter ID Law Case — For Now

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Supreme Court justices decided not to hear an appeal from the state of Texas in an attempt to bring back its voter identification law, denying its Republican attorney general a chance to overturn a lower court ruling that the law discriminated against Blacks and Hispanics.

In its July ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said 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 state had softened the law, but attorney general Ken Paxton wanted to get the law returned to the way it had originally been put on the books.

As written, the law required showing one of seven forms of photo identification, allowing concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs. Experts believed that it was among the most strict voter ID laws in the country. The case was sent back to lower courts by the Supreme Court so they could decide how to fix the law.

But Chief John Roberts, in a statement on the denial said that although they court would not hear the case today, it could be taken up at a later date. “Petitioners may raise either or both issues again after entry of final judgment,” Roberts wrote. “The issues will be better suited for certiorari review at that time.”

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.


An earlier version of this story appeared on JETMag.com.

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