Justice Department withdraws Obama-era challenge to Texas voter ID law

The U.S. Department of Justice will withdraw from a legal challenge to the Texas voter ID law, according to a public interest group involved in the litigation.

Despite those changes, the Republican-controlled state government has lobbied hard since then to reinstate their preferred voting requirements, with Texas Attorney General filing legal motions asking for that reinstatement. "There haven't been any changes in the facts".

As partisan-fueled court battles over state voting laws are poised to shape the political landscape in 2016 and beyond, new Gallup research shows four in five Americans support both early voting and voter ID laws. "Nothing has changed except for Jeff Sessions is running the Department of Justice".

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the law had a discriminatory effect on minority voters, but remanded the question of discriminatory intent back to a lower court.

Last week, the Justice Department and the Texas attorney general's office asked Ramos to postpone Tuesday's hearing because Republicans in the Legislature filed a bill to revamp the Texas voter ID law to track numerous provisions the court required the state to employ to make sure people could vote in November if they were unable to secure a state-approved ID.

"At a minimum, the State Defendants and the United States anticipate that the parties would file a new round of briefing and present a new round of oral argument on the discriminatory goal claim if Texas enacts new voter ID legislation", the Texas and DOJ attorneys wrote in a joint motion.

The Texas voter ID law ― signed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Trump's nominee for Energy Secretary ― was called an "unconstitutional poll tax" by a federal judge in 2014. "Thus, there is no reason for the Court or the parties to devote additional time and resources to arguing the discriminatory objective claim on the current briefing and record now, before the Texas Legislature has had a chance to act on the new proposed legislation". He also reacted positively to the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down several sections of the Voting Rights Act, including one provision to which the Texas law would have been subject.

On Tuesday, DOJ lawyers will appear before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos and inform her that the federal government is dismissing its claim that the voter ID law was crafted with a discriminatory intent.

In November, under Obama, the Justice Department argued that "a wealth of evidence" suggests that lawmakers consciously discriminated, including the state's lengthy history of discrimination in elections and a shift in demographics that could threaten current officeholders. She is also tasked with overseeing changes to the law that would allow the state to safeguard the integrity of its elections while not discriminating against minority voters.

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