By Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune
After seven long years of litigation, opponents of Texas’ voter ID law say the case is over.
In a court filing on Wednesday (Aug. 8, 2018), opponents of the law requiring Texas voters to present photo identification to vote told a federal district judge that the case was settled and that they would not pursue any other remedies or changes to the law they first challenged in 2011 as discriminatory against voters of color.
Because neither party in the case asked for rehearing or attempted to kick it up to U.S. Supreme Court, “the substantive merits and remedy phases of this long-standing case are over,” they wrote.
The filing follows the state’s June request to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to reconsider previous findings that the state’s voter ID law was enacted to purposefully discriminate against Hispanic and black voters. That request came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas lawmakers did not intentionally discriminate when they signed off on congressional and state House maps in 2013 — a decision that Texas argued “cast irremovable doubt” on previous decisions against the voter ID law.
The state contended that, like in the redistricting case, lawmakers should be extended the “presumption of legislative good faith” for working to replace a law that Ramos ruled disproportionately — and intentionally — burdened voters of color who are less likely to have one of the seven forms of identification that the state required them to show at the polls.
Lawmakers revised the voter ID law last year by passing Senate Bill 5, which mostly followed the lead of temporary voter ID rules Ramos put in place for the 2016 elections in an effort to ease the state’s requirements by allowing voters without permissible IDs to vote after signing an affidavit. Last August, Ramos tossed the state’s revised voter ID law, saying it didn’t do enough to ameliorate the “discriminatory features” of the old law. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the revised law in April.
In Wednesday’s filing, opponents of the law asked the court to dismiss the state’s request because there was nothing left to pursue in the case given the 5th Circuit’s ruling that the changes made to law in SB 5 were “an effective remedy” to the original 2011 law that was deemed legally defective.
They also described Texas’s arguments that “new Supreme Court precedent has somehow changed the standard for discriminatory intent that this Court applied in prior holdings” as “frivolous.” The only remaining issues in the case are fees and costs related to the litigation, according to the plaintiffs.
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