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Texas Lawmakers Passed Voter ID Law With 'Discriminatory Purpose,' Judge Rules

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Texas lawmakers intended to discriminate when they passed a strict voter ID law in 2011, a federal judge has ruled.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had found in July that the law, largely considered the strictest in the nation, discriminated against some minority groups because they are less likely to have one of seven state-approved forms of photo ID. 

The appeals court asked the district court judge to determine whether lawmakers discriminated on purpose.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi ruled Monday that the state failed to show that the law would have been enacted without its discriminatory purpose, thus violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

"What the courts have found and what the evidence compelled was the belief that it wasn’t a solution in search of a problem," Chad Dunn, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said. "It was a solution in pursuit of a political and discriminatory end.”

Dunn said the court will now have to rule on what remedies will be put in place. That could include changes to the current version of the law, as well as possible federal oversight of the state's voting laws.  

The appeals court's earlier finding led to changes to the law ahead of last November’s election. The state Senate approved legislation last month to incorporate those changes, adding options for voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of the forms of ID required at the polls. The measure would also make it a felonyto falsely claim the need to choose from the expanded list of options.

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