Supreme Court, in Voting Rights Act Follow-Up, Wipes out Key Texas Rulings

Article excerpt

Two days after invalidating a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the US Supreme Court wiped out two important rulings under that now-vanquished section that had blocked a new voter ID law and required more generous minority election districts in Texas.

The high court took the action Thursday in two brief orders in the pending cases of Texas v. US (12-496), challenging state-wide redistricting plans, and Texas v. Holder (12-1028), challenging a new law requiring voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot. Latinos had challenged the redistricting plans as attempts to weaken their political influence, and Attorney General Eric Holder had criticized the voter ID laws as a "poll tax."

Both measures, backed by Republican lawmakers, had been blocked by judicial panels in Washington acting pursuant to their authority under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Until Tuesday, that section of the law had required certain states and jurisdictions that had histories of discrimination - including Texas - to submit proposed changes in election rules and procedures to Washington for pre-approval.

On Tuesday, in a 5-to-4 vote, the high court invalidated a closely related portion of the VRA in a ruling that effectively ended all coverage under Section 5.

That set the stage for Thursday's orders. After vacating the earlier decisions, the Supreme Court remanded both cases to the lower courts for further consideration in light of the VRA ruling.

What happens next is unclear.

view_extra

Shortly after the decision on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the state's new voter ID law would immediately take effect. …