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Feds reportedly drop opposition to Texas voter ID law

Feds reportedly drop opposition to Texas voter ID law

A spokesman with the Department of Justice says it no longer plans to challenge its long-held position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the 2011 law. "We will be arguing the same claim, and we think it's really disappointing that the Department of Justice is backing away from its enforcement of voting rights".

"None of the facts have changed, just the administration", Danielle Lang, a lawyer with one of several groups challenging the voter ID law, told the Texas Tribune.

"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.

"We have already had a nine-day trial and presented thousands of pages of documents demonstrating that the picking and choosing of what IDs count was entirely discriminatory and would fall more harshly on minority voters", Lang said. The Brennan Center for Justice challenged the law on behalf of the Texas NAACP and the state House's Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

A hearing on whether the law was passed with discriminatory intent is scheduled for Tuesday. But on Monday, lawyers for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told parties that they were dropping a claim that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and African-American voters. 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. The Fifth Circuit also asked Ramos to create a temporary solution to the law's discriminatory effect, to be in place by the November election. Those who oppose the law believe that it discriminates against minority voters with strict identification provisions. The division oversees the DOJ's implementation of federal law on voting, and Wheeler's appointment was another sign of the Trump administration's intention to switch sides. If the voting rights plaintiffs can uphold Judge Ramos' ruling - that Texas lawmakers intentionally passed a discriminatory bill - Texas would again be subject to federal pre-clearance for voting or elections changes in the future.

"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. In August, when the state originally sought to postpone arguments regarding intent until the legislature had time to come up with a solution, Lang said the DOJ fought back, arguing it was in the interest of justice to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down the law in 2014, ruling that it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing unconstitutional impediments on the right to vote. "But this type of discrimination is unacceptable in our democracy, and the other voting-rights advocates on the case will continue to press the issue in court".

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