Texas Voter ID Suit May Await Related High Court Ruling

The U.S. Justice Department agreed to defer further proceedings in a lawsuit filed by Texas over the state’s voter identification law until the Supreme Court rules whether part of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a filing today in federal court in Washington, said the department could wait for the Supreme Court to review a provision of the 1965 law that requires all or part of 16 mostly Southern states to get federal approval before changing their voting rules.

The Supreme Court said on Nov. 9 it would consider a case brought by Shelby County, Alabama, which objects to the formula under the law used to determine which jurisdictions are subject to Section 5 of act.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County may provide critical guidance in resolving” the case, Holder said.

A Texas law requiring photo identification to vote was rejected by a three-judge panel in Washington on Aug. 30 after a bench trial. In order to issue a ruling before the November election, the panel held off on deciding Texas’s claim that Section 5, which requires so-called pre-clearance of laws that affect voting qualifications and procedures, is unconstitutional.

The case is Texas v. Holder, 12-cv-00128, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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