A federal district court has held on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sitting en banc that Texas enacted its controversial voter identification law with a racially discriminatory intent.
If (and it is a big if) the ruling stands through the 5th Circuit and Supreme Court appeals, it would be grounds for throwing out the entire law (and not just softening it though an affidavit requirement, etc.) and potentially a basis to put the state back under federal supervision for up to 10 years.
The new opinion is only 10 pages. In the initial ruling, the district court already found discriminatory purpose. The 5th Circuit on appeal held that the district court had considered some evidence which was impermissible, and required the district court to reconsider only proper evidence in making the discriminatory intent determination.
The opinion today basically says: putting aside the stuff the 5th Circuit said not to consider, I come to the same conclusion: the law was passed with racially discriminatory intent:
Upon reconsideration and a re-weighing of the evidence in conformity with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, the Court holds that the evidence found “infirm” did not tip the scales. Plaintiffs’ probative evidence—that which was left intact after the Fifth Circuit’s review—establishes that a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage of SB 14. Consequently, the burden shifted to the State to demonstrate that the law would have been enacted without its discriminatory purpose. Hunter, 471 U.S. at 228. The State has not met its burden. Therefore, this Court holds, again, that SB 14 was passed with a discriminatory purpose in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
[This post has been updated.]