A court ruling against a controversial election integrity law passed in Texas has been temporarily suspended by a higher appeals court.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 2-1 on Tuesday to suspend a lower court’s earlier ruling, which blocked Texas from enforcing its voter ID legislation. This means the law can be implemented as the court considers the case.
The wording of the circuit court ruling seems to indicate the court is leaning toward upholding the Texas law.
“The state [of Texas] has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits,” wrote Judges Jennifer Elrod and Jerry Smith in a six-page ruling.
The law in question was Texas’ second attempt at a voter ID law after its initial 2011 effort was deemed too draconian.
But “SB 5 allows voters without qualifying photo ID to cast regular ballots by executing a declaration that they face a reasonable impediment to obtaining qualifying photo ID. This declaration is made under the penalty of perjury,” the judges explained. “The State has made a strong showing that this reasonable-impediment procedure remedies plaintiffs’ alleged harm and thus forecloses plaintiffs’ injunctive relief.”
The Trump administration praised the appeals court decision.
“We are pleased that the Fifth Circuit has stayed the injunction and allowed Texas to proceed with its duly enacted voter identification laws,” said U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam in an official statement.
“Preserving the integrity of the ballot is vital to our democracy, and the Fifth Circuit’s order allows Texas to continue to fulfill that duty as this case moves forward,” she continued.
The 5th Circuit’s ruling reversed the decision of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee, who ruled in April that the law was discriminatory against minority voters.
Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said that the 5th Circuit’s decision was an “expected but still welcome” decision, and explained that this was actually the second time the 5th Circuit has reversed one of Ramos’ decisions about the Texas voter ID law.
Calling Ramos’s decisions “judicial activism” would be “a polite way to put it,” Churchwell told LifeZette. “Calling her a glutton for punishment might be an overstatement, but essentially she is very keen to see some of her most high-profile rulings overturned on a dime. This is now the second time that the 5th Circuit Court has taken her ruling and done a 180 on it.”
Indeed Judges Elrod and Smith even criticized Ramos for her activism in their decision, arguing she went beyond the natural bounds of the case.
“The district court went beyond the scope of the mandate on remand,” they wrote. “Simply put, whether SB 5 should be enjoined — as opposed to whether it remedies SB 14’s ills — was not an issue before the district court on remand.”
(photo credit, homepage image: Bobak Ha’Eri)