Not what I would have wanted, but not the end of the line.
Even as a federal appeals court prepares to review the constitutionality of Texas’ controversial voter ID law, the law will remain in effect, the U.S. Supreme Court said in an order Friday.
However, noting the time-sensitive nature of the case as the November elections approach, the Supreme Court also hinted that if the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t issued a definitive ruling by July 20, the justices may revisit the issue.
Oral arguments are scheduled for May 24.
In the interim, civil rights groups filed a petition with Justice Clarence Thomas, who sits at the head of the 5th Circuit to review emergency appeals. One the groups, the Campaign Legal Center, asked the Supreme Court to strike down the questionable laws while their legality is determined, so that there is sufficient time to spread information about who can vote in the November general elections.
Texas officials asked the justices to let the law stand, arguing that Texas will ultimately win the case. If the law were struck down temporarily and then restored later, it would cause “irreparable injury,” they said.
On Friday, the Supreme Court sided with Texas officials – but seemed to push the 5th Circuit toward making a speedy ruling as the presidential election approaches.
“The Court recognizes the time constraints the parties confront in light of the scheduled elections in November,” the Supreme Court’s order said. “If, on or before July 20, 2016,” the 5th Circuit hasn’t taken any action, the nine justices might revisit the issue, it added.
See here, here, and here for some background. A fuller quote from the SCOTUS ruling, via the Chron story, is “If, on or before July 20, 2016, the Court of Appeals has neither issued an opinion on the merits of the case nor issued an order vacating or modifying the current stay order, an aggrieved party may seek interim relief from this Court by filing an appropriate application. An aggrieved party may also seek interim relief if any change in circumstances before that date supports further arguments respecting the stay order.” We’ll see if this at least puts a bit of a fire underneath the Fifth Circuit’s robes. A statement from the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) is beneath the fold, and the Lone Star Project and Trail Blazers have more.
Today, the United States Supreme Court denied a request to immediately block enforcement of Texas’s photo/voter identification law. However, in recognition of the time constraints due to the pending November 2016 elections, the Court also ruled that any aggrieved party can ask the Court to step in if the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has not issued an opinion on the case by July 20, 2016 or if there is any change in circumstances in the interim.
Jose Garza, voting rights counsel for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, issued the following statement:
“While the Supreme Court has declined to block the Texas Voter ID law at this time, it has sent a clear message to Texas. The Supreme Court will not accept any more delay tactics from the Texas Attorney General and has set a deadline for when it may take additional action if needed. By July 20th, the Supreme Court may take action to stop this unconstitutional and illegal law from being used in the 2016 election. MALC continues to stand with the potentially hundreds of thousands of Texans who may lose their vote because of this law.”
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) is proud to fight alongside our allies against this retrogressive law in order to protect access to the ballot box for all eligible Texans. Thanks to our legal team and the efforts of our allies, we have worked to ensure that all eligible voters in Texas have an equal opportunity to participate in our democratic process.
We eagerly await the Fifth Circuit Court’s opinion on whether the photo ID law violates part of federal voting rights law.