AUSTIN, Texas — A United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, Nelva Gonzalez Ramos, has struck down Texas Senate Bill 14, the 2011 voter ID law, in an opinion released tonight. The Court’s finding was that “SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” as well as “constitut[ing] an unconstitutional poll tax.”
The opinion is 147 pages long and we are still reviewing it, but on first review, part of the Court’s reasoning is that the costs associated with obtaining a photo ID are an undue burden to poor and minority voters, and the provisions made for obtaining a free “election identification certificate” are “insufficient.” (See page 68 of the opinion.)
Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office released a statement from Lauren Bean, Deputy Communications Director, vowing to appeal:
“The State of Texas will immediately appeal and will urge the Fifth Circuit to resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional so we are confident the Texas law will be upheld on appeal.”
UPDATE: Many political observers expected Judge Ramos, an appointee of President Barack Obama, to rule against the State of Texas and strike down the law. Abbott himself had tweeted just a few days ago a defense of the law and a link to an article discussing some of the ways that Texans can obtain free election identification certificates:
#VoterID is good. Getting an ID is easier than ever. See how: http://t.co/IO5xlQWMa5 #txlege #txgop
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 7, 2014
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