Judge again finds discrimination in Texas' voter ID law

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Judge again finds discrimination in Texas' voter ID law

Ramos wrote in the 10-page ruling that Texas "has not met its burden" in showing that their strict photo ID laws did not disproportionately discriminate against blacks and Latinos. Sign up at Tribune.com for our upcoming newsletter.

Texas lawmakers also rejected a number of amendments that would have "softened the racial impact" of the law, said Ramos, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.

In January, the justices declined the state's latest plea to take a deep look at the voter ID law, but Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the case may be "better suited" for review at a later time.

Ramos's ruling against the 2011 voter ID law could pave the way for the state to be stripped of its rights to change election laws without federal approval.

Prior to the 2016 election, while the Supreme Court was still down a justice, all four of the Court's Republicans voted to reinstate North Carolina's omnibus voter suppression law - despite a federal appeals court's determination that the law was intentionally created to increase its impact on black voters and minimize its impact on white voters.

The ruling was actually the second time the courts weighed in on the state's voter ID law, and to similar results - last July, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act because it disproportionately targeted minority voters who were less likely to have those types of IDs. For instance, Ramos' ruling highlights the fact that there were only two documented cases of in-person voter fraud out of the 20 million votes cast in Texas in the decade leading up to SB 14's passage.

Last July, the USA 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law discriminated against Latinos and other minorities but made no ruling on whether it was meant to be discriminatory. While Republicans held a majority in both the state House and Senate, Democrats were able to block the bill three times. The agency's lawyers withdrew their years-old claim that Texas had enacted the law with a discriminatory intent.

FILE - In this November 5, 2013 file photo, a sign in a window tells of photo ID requirements for voting at a polling location in Richardson, Texas. That could include changes to the current version of the law, as well as possible federal oversight of the state's voting laws. The 1965 law outlined a formula, which included states' histories of discrimination devices, to determine which states needed so-called preclearance. The state Senate approved legislation last month to incorporate those changes, adding options for voters who say they can not "reasonably" obtain one of the forms of ID required at the polls. That decision allowed Texas to approve changes to its voting laws without "pre-clearance" by the federal government - but if Ramos' decision that the law is discriminatory stands, the state may once again have to seek pre-clearance before passing any other election laws.

Plaintiffs in the case, including voting rights advocates and minority Democratic lawmakers, praised the court's ruling.

"It's possible. It's our belief that you'd have to have multiple instances of discriminatory goal", Brantley Starr, a deputy first assistant attorney general, said. Marc Rylander, the spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said the office would be seeking another review of the ruling.

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