Federal judge tosses out Texas voter ID law

Dawn Humphrey hauls her luggage into her mother's home in Irving on  Aug. 2. Both she and her husband dropped out of college for medical reasons. They are still paying off more than $75,000 in student loans. Humphrey who lives in Waco and works in I

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi said the state's voting rules violated the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Ramos, who ruled in April that Texas lawmakers had purposefully discriminated against Latinx and black voters when it wrote the original voter ID law, found that SB 5 failed to correct the state's strict voting rules.

Paxton said he will appeal the 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 ruling is also a setback for the Trump administration, which had argued that the interim law "removes any discriminatory effect or intent the court found in SB 14 and advances Texas' legitimate policy objectives in adopting a voter ID law".

Texas has essentially been fighting to preserve the law since it was passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should reverse Ramos' decision, he said.

The state's voting regulations, among the most restrictive in the country, were "enacted with discriminatory intent - knowingly placing additional burdens on a disproportionate number of Hispanic and African American voters", the judge concluded.

The injunctions are another blow to Texas' track record on voter rights.

Lawmakers responded to previous judicial pushback against that bill by passing Senate Bill 5, a revamped version of the voter ID law this summer. Still, Texas keeps trying to adjust the law and push it through.

She approved a plan that watered down SB 14 by letting voters bring a certified birth certificate, bank statement, paycheck or utility bill to the polls and sign a "reasonable impediment" declaration stating why they could not get SB 14 ID.

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 objective or result of SB 14".

On Wednesday, Ramos said Senate Bill 5 was "an improvement" but also said it didn't solve the discrimination issue with the original law.

Ramos had temporarily softened the state's voter ID rules for the 2016 elections, and the new law somewhat followed her lead.

Texas has already appealed the redistricting ruling and vowed to appeal the voter ID one.

Ramos's ruling was celebrated by civil rights groups and activists. Texas still excludes state government IDs and student IDs, for example, which have been accepted in other states with voter ID laws. The U.S. Department of Justice under the Obama Administration sided with the plaintiffs in the voter ID case, but after Donald Trump assumed the presidency, pulled out of the case, saying SB5 looked good. "The federal district court's decisions rejecting SB 14 and SB 5 reaffirm the core goal of the hard-fought Voting Rights Act which sought to eliminate racially discriminatory barriers to voting no matter how they are disguised".

That was the year the court gutted the federal Voting Rights Act, which had required states with troubled racial histories to submit election changes for approval.

Cruz led the filing of an amicus brief past year on behalf of the entire Texas Republican congressional delegation supporting Texas' 2011 Voter ID law.

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