Texas Enforces Voter ID Law As SCOTUS Strikes Voting Rights Act
By Joey Palacios
June 25, 2013

The United State Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act means the state of Texas can now legally enforce its voter ID law. It had been held up in court.

Section 4 outlined the formula that determined which states would require pre-clearance  by the Justice Department enacting new voting laws. The court said the formula was outdated and no longer valid and federal pre-clearance, known as Section 5, couldn’t be enforced.

Moments after the Supreme Court decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement saying the Texas voter ID law would take effect immediately. The law had been tied up in court since its passage in 2011.

But with the decision, Dallas lawyer Michael Li, who has followed the case through the court system, says it can go forward.

“Those likely would have been resolved over the next couple of years but now that there’s effectively no Section 5 — because there’s no coverage formula — the appeals are dead and the laws that were at issue can be enforced,” Li said.

Li said with no Section 4, other states can now make changes to voting laws without any Department of Justice hurdles; but those changes can still be subject to lawsuits from civil rights and advocacy groups.

Mike Villarreal, a Texas State Representative, says those suits could take years and it will be up to Congress to make the changes to the Voting Rights Act.

“Unfortunately I’m not very confident in Congress these days, and if they do not replace the section that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the end it’s going to be our citizens that are vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority,” Villarreal said.

Li also stated without Section 4, Texas can also enforce redistricting maps from 2011 that were previously ruled unconstitutional.