Published: Wed, March 01, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Trump Drops Effort to Block Texas' Voter ID Law


"There are no impending federal or statewide elections; the Texas Legislature is now convened in its biennial legislative session; and the State has asked the Court to defer to its ongoing legislative efforts to enact an appropriate amendment to its voter identification law", lawyers wrote, explaining the three core reasons for its voluntary removal from the case. The Department of Justice (DOJ) joined the fight against the law, which the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually found to indeed be intentionally discriminatory against Black and Latinx voters. Justice Dept pulls out of Texas voter ID case WH bats down calls for special prosecutor in Russian Federation probe MORE has taken to reverse the Obama administration's position in voting rights cases.

A ruling against Texas could ultimately put it back on the list of states needing federal approval (called "preclearance") before changing election laws.

The Justice Department said Monday it would no longer pursue allegations that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by requiring them to present one of a handful of approved forms of photo identification. Sessions' DOJ will drop the federal government's longstanding argument that Texas legislators acted with discriminatory intent.

"It's a complete 360", Lang told the Associated Press. "The Justice Department should be doing everything in its power to encourage participation in the democratic process, not giving tacit support to the State's effort to suppress it". They point to a provision in the law that allows Texas voters to use their hunting licenses as identification, but not student identification cards. Obama's attorneys general, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, repeatedly took action against voter ID laws, either through investigations or lawsuits against state governments.

Voting rights advocates, who worked with the Obama Justice Department for years on the court challenge, expressed outrage at the reversal.

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The federal government's change of position was a new sign that the civil rights agenda has undergone a major shift with the election victory of President Donald Trump. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is also involved in the challenge to the law.

It is thus unclear whether, or even if, the Texas case will return to the Supreme Court, and in what form.

Civil rights groups have expressed fears that this new investigation will provide an incentive to state legislatures to adopt new restrictions on voters' rights. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals further blocked the state from fully enforcing the law for the 2016 presidential election, a decision that cleared the way for more than 16,000 Texans to vote.

A hearing on the matter will be held Tuesday in Ramos' Corpus Christi courtroom.

"We are pressing forward with the discriminatory objective claim, so while it is disappointing and a concerning signal from the Department of Justice about their position on voting rights it will not change our position in the case", she said in an interview.

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