What’s Up With the Texas Voter ID Case?

Back on September 22, when the federal district court in Corpus Christi heard closing arguments in the case arguing that Texas’s strict voter id law violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act’s section 2, I wrote:

Nolan Hicks reports on the closing arguments.

Based on some of the judge’s earlier rulings, her appointment as a Democratic appointee, and reports from argument, I think there is a fairly good chance that the judge strikes down Texas’s voter id law under the Voting Rights Act. If that happens, the case would go to the 5th Circuit, where there could well be a reversal, given that the 5th Circuit has many more Republican appointees and is one of the most conservative courts in the country. The case could end up at the Supreme Court, although the 7th Circuit Wisconsin case and the 4th Circuit North Carolina case (not primarily about voter id, but about the meaning of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act) could get there first.

Now the really interesting thing is what happens if the district court enjoins use of the ID requirement for this election in November. If that happens, I expect an expedited trip to the 5th Circuit and potentially to the Supreme Court. It would raise the same Purcell issue of making changes just before the election, although unlike in the Wisconsin case, this would be to remove a requirement already in place not to put in place a new requirement just before the election—something more likely to cause electoral chaos. [UPDATE: AP says the district court judge has not indicated when she will rule.]

Then last week I noted that despite expectations of lawyers in the courtroom that the judge would rule before the election, the SCOTUS action in the other cases (OH, WI, and NC) may have convinced the judge not to rule before the election or else face a Purcell problem of changing rules just before the election.

The first day of early voting is October 20 in Texas. Every day the chances that the judge will rule before the election go down further.

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