A federal judge ruled on Monday that Texas’ voter ID law, passed in 2011, was illegal, agreeing with other recent court rulings. The judge said the law was enacted to intentionally discriminate against minority voters.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos said the ID law, one of the toughest in the country, violated the Voting Rights Act.
Judge Ramos made a similar ruling in 2014, but the federal appellate court told her to review the case once more after Texas appealed the decision.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said Judge Ramos relied too heavily on evidence it labeled as “infirm” and Texas’ history of discriminatory voting measures. The court asked her to review the question of intentional discrimination.
Judge Ramos said the Fifth Circuit’s evidence did little to tip the scales in the state’s favor.
Lawyers working on the case say Ramos’ decision effectively strikes down the law, although no such order has been issued. Texas officials will likely appeal the decision.
A spokesman for the Texas attorney general said the state will seek a review of the ruling “at the appropriate time.”
In Judge Ramos’ analysis, she pointed out how Democrats attempted to soften the racial impact of the bill, such as allowing more forms of ID and reducing the costs of obtaining ID cards, but the Legislature ultimately rejected these amendments.
She also acknowledged the challenge of pinpointing the Legislature’s motives.
Judge Ramos’ ruling marks the fifth time a court has found the law to be discriminatory, says Kristen Clarke, executive director and president of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The bill, which was passed by then-Governor Rick Perry, went into effect in 2013, and would have required voters to show a passport, driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID before being able to vote.
The law was softened for the 2016 presidential election, as the appellate court had found that the law discriminated against minorities, many of which do not have government-issued photo identification.