Attorneys challenging Texas' voter ID law — which was struck down by a federal judge on Thursday — asked a federal appeals court on Sunday not to allow the state to enforce the law.
In a brief filed with the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals, lawyers for plaintiffs including the League of United Latin American Citizens argued that the law was unconstitutional. Attorney Chad Dunn wrote that the law should not take effect, in order to "allow the 2014 elections to go forward under the principles of true democracy.”
The brief came as a response to an emergency motion filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the law. Abbott, who is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked the appellate court’s mostly conservative judges on Friday to stay the lower court’s ruling and keep the voter ID law in effect for the November election.
A haze of uncertainty was cast over the law's future on Thursday, when U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi ruled in a scathing judgment that it created an unconstitutional burden and discriminated against Hispanics and African-Americans. The ruling came less than two weeks before the start of early voting.
The law, enacted last year, requires most citizens (some, like the disabled, can be exempt) to show one of several allowable photo identification cards before their votes can be counted. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a Texas driver's license or state ID card that is not more than 60 days expired at the time of voting, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.
The law was passed in 2011 but had been on hold until a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for its implementation.
Opponents of the law — including the U.S. Department of Justice and lawyers for some minority groups in Texas — filed suit, claiming the law violates the federal Voting Rights Act and was intended to cut into the electoral strength of the state’s growing minority population.
The state maintains the law ensures the security of the ballots cast by voters and prevents voter fraud. Attorneys for the state argue that there is no evidence the law will keep legitimate voters from voting. Attorneys challenging the law said there is little evidence of the kind of in-person voter fraud the law is intended to prevent.