[1/23/17] The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Texas seeking to revive the state’s strict Republican-backed voter-identification requirements that a lower court found had a discriminatory effect on black and Hispanic people.
The justices let stand a July 2016 decision by a lower court that found that the 2011 Texas statute ran afoul of a federal law that bars racial discrimination in elections and directed a lower court to find a way to fix the law’s discriminatory effects against minorities.
There were no noted dissents from the high court’s decision not to hear the case from any of the eight justices, but Chief Justice John Roberts took the unusual step of issuing a statement explaining why the case was not taken up, noting that litigation on the matter is continuing in lower courts.
Roberts said that although there was “no barrier to our review,” all the legal issues can be raised on appeal at a later time.
The law, passed by a Republican-led legislature and signed by a Republican governor, had been considered one of the strictest of its type in the United States. It was challenged in court by the U.S. Justice Department under former President Barack Obama, civil rights groups and individual voters.
Critics including the Obama administration had said the Texas law and similar statutes enacted in other Republican-governed states were tailored to make it harder for minorities including black and Hispanic voters, who tend to support Democrats, to cast ballots. Backers of these laws have said they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, despite little evidence of such fraud.