Supreme Court: Texas voter ID law to remain in effect for now

Story highlights

  • In their one-page order, the Supreme Court said they would allow Texas' controversial voter ID law to remain in effect
  • The law was passed in 2011, but only implemented after the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Friday allowed a controversial Texas voter ID law to remain in effect for now, turning away an emergency motion from opponents of the law who say it is one of the most strict in the country.

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge to the law at the end of May.
In their one-page order, the justices made clear they recognize the "time constraints" that exist because of the upcoming election and advised the parties that if the appeals court has not ruled by the end of July, the civil rights groups who brought the challenge could return to the Supreme Court to seek relief.
    There were no noted dissents to the order, and it suggested that the justices were looking for a way to reach consensus on a subject that has divided them in the past.
    "We appreciate the Supreme Court allowing the law to remain in effect at this time," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement. He said the measure is a common sense law to provide "simple protections to the integrity of our elections."
    Danielle Lang, a lawyer from the Campaign Legal Center, who is on the legal team representing the plaintiffs said that she was "encouraged" by the order noting that the court has "indicated a willingness to step in and protect Texas voters in the 2016 upcoming election if the Fifth Circuit fails to act in time."
    Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine School of Law notes the Court's order will put the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on a time frame "so that the issue can be resolved when it is not the last minute before the election."
    Critics of the law had expressed some fear that the appeals court might drag its feet and delay a ruling which would ensure that the law would be in effect in November. Hasen says the Supreme Court's schedule "prevents not only dawdling but intentional foot-dragging."
    The law was passed in 2011, but only implemented after a divided Supreme Court essentially invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act. The law requires voters to present certain government-issued photo ID when voting in person, which includes a Texas driver's license, a Texas election identification certificate, a Texas personal identification card, a Texas concealed handgun license, a U.S. Military identification card, a U.S. Citizenship certificate or a U.S. Passport.
    In 2014, the Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect over the strenuous objection of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who stayed up all night to write a dissent from the Court's opinion. She was joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.