Trial Begins For Texas Voter ID Law

July 9, 2012 7:41 a.m.

A three judge panel in D.C. started hearing arguments about the legality of voter ID law passed in Texas on Monday.

The Justice Department blocked the state law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act back in March. Texas preemptively sued the federal government in January for not preclearing the law, which was signed last May, in a timely manner.Texas argued that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division should preclear the voter ID law because DOJ cleared a similar Georgia law under the Bush administration. In that case, however, political appointees within DOJ overruled career Civil Rights Division employees who recommended the Georgia voter ID law be blocked.

The trial on Texas’ law is expected to last four days and closing arguments will take place on Friday, according to a joint press release from civil rights groups who have intervened in the case. Texas has used the case to launch an assault on the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which forces some states with a history of racial discrimination to have all changes to their voting laws cleared by either DOJ or a panel of federal judges in D.C.

DOJ has also blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law, but there’s little they can do in states that have passed voter ID laws that aren’t subject to Section 5 of the VRA.

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