5th Circuit on TX Voter ID Law - Remains in Effect, Accommodations Required

Yesterday, the en banc 5th Circuit ruled in the challenge to Texas' voter ID law.  While the left is claiming a victory, widely saying that the court found the law unconstitutional, the opinion is actually much more nuanced and leaves the primary requirements of the law in effect.  

Texas' voter ID law remains in effect for every voter that has an identification that meets the law's requirements.  The district court must determine how those who lack an acceptable ID to be able to vote in November, and it has already issued an order pertaining to that requirement.

Largely ignored in the liberal rejoicing over the decision is that the 5th Circuit threw out the district court's finding that the voter ID law was a poll tax and seriously questioned its finding that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent.

In dissent, Judge Edith Jones strongly criticized the court's decision to leave the question of discriminatory intent open:

Requiring a voter to verify her identity with a photo ID at the polling place is a reasonable requirement widely supported by Texans of all races and members of the public belonging to both political parties. The majority, however, today holds not only that Texas’s photo voter ID law, SB 14, violates the “results test” declared in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, but concludes that there is “more than a scintilla” of evidence to support a finding that the Texas Legislature passed the photo voter ID law with a racially discriminatory intent. By keeping this latter claim alive, the majority fans the flames of perniciously irresponsible racial name-calling.

No one doubts our unwavering duty to enforce antidiscrimination law. But in this media-driven and hyperbolic era, the discharge of that duty requires the courage to distinguish between invidious motivation and shadows. The ill-conceived, misguided, and unsupported majority opinion shuns discernment. Because of definitive Supreme Court authority, no comparable federal court precedent in over forty years has found a state legislative act motivated by purposeful racial discrimination. Even more telling, the multithousand page record yields not a trace, much less a legitimate inference, of racial bias by the Texas Legislature. Indeed, why would a racially biased legislature have provided for a cost-free election ID card to assist poor registered voters—of all races—who might not have drivers’ licenses? Yet the majority emulates the clever capacity of Area 51 alien enthusiasts who, lacking any real evidence, espied a vast but clandestine government conspiracy to conceal the “truth.” 

The major take-away from this opinion is that voter ID laws are valid.  While the 5th Circuit judges disagree over whether they are discriminatory in purpose or effect, the requirement for a person in possession of an ID to present it prior to voting was yet again upheld.