And, it just did again.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals unanimously killed the state's new voter ID law. Details here.
The appeals court reversed plaintiffs' one claim of discriminatory intent and told the district court, which had ruled in their favor, to look again at that issue. It rejected in toto the claim that it was a poll tax, which the district court had ruled it was. Since that ruling, the state had removed fees to obtain some voter-related IDs, so this was the correct ruling there. Overall, yes, per the Morning News, it was a narrow ruling.
But, it said that it did violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Given how conservative the Fifth Circuit is, this has to be considered some sort of win. And it's notable that it specifically mentioned Section 2, the "effects" clause, which that Wikipedia link notes has not had clear rulings by SCOTUS.
However, even if narrow, the Fifth Circuit did indicate it wanted a remedy.
Which means our state's beloved AG, "Kenny Boy" Paxton, upholding the tradition of idiotic Kenny Boys, is just wrong with this news release, which says in part:
“Today’s ruling was a victory on the fundamental question of Texas’ right to protect the integrity of our elections and the state’s common sense Voter ID law remains in effect.”
We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and remand for consideration of the proper remedy.
“I strongly disagree with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which rejected a portion of that law,” Patrick said in a statement. “Texas’ Voter ID law was passed by the legislature with the intent of preserving the integrity of the voting process. There was never any intention of preventing anyone from voting who is legally qualified to do so.”
On the other hand, the Fifth Circuit may be hinting it wants the nation's blind, business-tilting umpire, John Roberts, to make a definitive ruling. However, Wiki notes that SCOTUS, in Mississippi Republican Electoral Opinion vs Brooks, issued a summary judgment that Section 2 is constitutional.
So, stand by.
A Roberts Court could use this as a final gutting of a key portion of the VRA. Or, it could stand aside.
As for remedies? If that's upheld, it's not clear if the state will take any in-depth remedies before 2016's primaries, or even general election. Again, stand by.