The Supreme Court denied a request Friday to halt Texas’ voter ID law while a lower court hears a case challenging it but, in a silver lining for the law’s opponents, signaled it would reconsider if the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tried to slow roll the case.
The 2011 law, which Texas was only able to implement after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, has been shot down by a district court and a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit. The state appealed the case to the full 5th Circuit, which agreed last month to hear it “en banc,” meaning by all 15 judges on the circuit court.
In an order issued Friday, the Supreme Court said it would not overrule an earlier decision by the 5th Circuit that left the law in effect while the case is being heard. However, it said that if the Court of Appeals doesn’t issue a decision on the pending case by July 20, the parties in the case could ask the Supreme Court again to weigh whether the law should be blocked. They could also ask the court to consider blocking it if there is “any change in circumstances before that date supports further arguments.”
“The Court recognizes the time constraints the parties confront in light of the scheduled elections in November, 2016,” the order said.
Texas’ law, considered on of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation, is being challenged by voting rights groups and the Department of Justice.