Breaking: Federal Court Denies Motion to Postpone Texas Voter ID Trial, Putting DOJ in Position to Change Sides in Litigation

A federal district court, following a remand from the Fifth Circuit, is considering whether Texas acted with racially discriminatory intent when it passed its controversial voter identification law. The district court had already made a finding that Texas had such intent, which could provide the basis for striking down Texas’s entire voter id law, and potentially (under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act), put the state back under federal preclearance of its voting changes for up to 10 years.

The litigation had been pushed by private plaintiffs and the US Department of Justice under the Obama Administration. But the Trump administration (which touts unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud regularly) is likely to have a different view on these issues, and could potentially switch sides.

Earlier this week, DOJ joined with Texas, but against the wishes of the private plaintiffs, asking for the trial to be put off until July, as Texas considers whether to pass legislation modifying its voter id law. A postponement would have allowed DOJ to avoid coming in, at least now, and switch positions in the case.

But today the district court denied the motion for a continuance, meaning the Feb. 28 hearing is back on, and putting DOJ on the spot.  I expect it will either now take a neutral position and pull out of the litigation, or perhaps even actively support Texas.

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