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Federal Judge Permanently Blocks Texas Voter ID Law

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

A federal judge in Corpus Christi has issued a permanent injunction against Texas' voter ID law, which required voters to show one of several approved forms of photo ID before casting a ballot.

Federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has previously found the law, known as Senate Bill 14, was enacted with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters. The state appealed that ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which largely upheld Gonzales Ramos' opinion. The court ordered a temporary fix for the 2016 election, which allowed people without ID to sign a document stating they could not reasonably obtain one before they voted.

The Texas Legislature made changes to the law during its session earlier this year, codifying that fix, but the judge found those changes did not negate the discriminatory purpose of the original law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has promised to appeal today's ruling, calling it "outrageous." 

"Senate Bill 5 [the bill that implemented the changes] was passed by the people’s representatives and includes all the changes to the Texas voter ID law requested by the 5th Circuit."

The Justice Department had also argued that the changes passed by the Legislature in Senate Bill 5 this spring were enough to resolve the court's concerns.

Judge Ramos, however, wrote today that "Defendants and the United States have failed to sustain their burden of proof that SB 5 fully ameliorates the discriminatory purpose or result of SB 14. They have not shown that SB 5, together with SB 14, constitutes a constitutional and legally valid plan." 

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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