Published: Tue, February 28, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

Justice Department withdraws Obama-era challenge to Texas voter ID law

Justice Department withdraws Obama-era challenge to Texas voter ID law

"The question at hand is whether or not the law that was passed in 2011 was racially discriminatory, and anything done in 2017 can not change the facts from 2011", said Lang.

A federal appeals court ruled previous year that the law disproportionately impacted minorities and those living in poverty, and ordered the state to implement changes before November's election. Both Trump and Sessions claim voter fraud is a major problem and have backed voter ID laws.

While the Justice Department may be turning away from the fight against voter ID laws, courts have generally sought to protect minority voter access to the ballot.

An attorney for a voting rights group said Monday that President Donald Trump's administration said that the federal government no longer plans to challenge Texas' strict voter ID law.

The Texas attorney general's office, which is defending the law, also declined to comment.

The move comes one day before a federal judge is set to hear arguments on that specific question of "intentional discrimination".

"At a minimum, the State Defendants and the United States anticipate that the parties would file a new round of briefing and present a new round of oral argument on the discriminatory goal claim if Texas enacts new voter ID legislation", the Texas and DOJ attorneys wrote in a joint motion. While the two were adversaries in the legal case leading up to this point, last week Texas and feds filed a joint, unsuccessful request to stall the hearing before U.S. District Judge Nelva Ramos, arguing a law proposed in the Texas Legislature this session could render the current case moot.

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"If new Texas state voter identification legislation is enacted into law, it will significantly affect the remainder of this litigation", the DOJ and Texas jointly argued.

Though numerous arguments for early voting and against voter ID laws frequently cite minorities' voting access, nonwhites' views of the two policies don't differ markedly from those of whites.

Texas and the USA had asked to delay Tuesday's hearing until state lawmakers considered new legislation filed in the current legislative session: state Sen.

The DOJ had previously argued exactly that.

"Private plaintiffs will continue to pursue justice in this matter", she said.

The outside civil rights groups that are part of the case will press on without the support of Sessions' Justice Department.

"We're disappointed to see that DOJ is abandoning its intent claim after years of building a case that Texas passed its law intending to discriminate against minority voters", said Wendy Weiser, the director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program in a statement. For one, there may be no other state where Republicans have more to lose from a sharp uptick in voter participation among nonwhite voters: If Texas's Hispanic citizens turned out at the same rate as its non-Hispanic whites, it would (almost certainly) be a swing state by now.

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