Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today ordered the Voter I.D. bill, which was passed by the Legislature in 2011 but had been held up by the U.S. Justice Department under the clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to take effect immediately, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Abbott says the law is now in effect because the pre-clearance provisions of the Act were thrown out today by a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that until Congress comes up with new guidelines for the Justice Department to use in its monitoring responsibilities, the oversight provisions cannot be enforced.
"He is absolutely right," Constitutional law expert Gerald Treece of the South Texas College of Law told 1200 WOAI news. "I think Attorney General Abbott not only is correct, he was part of the gang of lawyers that argued this before the U.S. Supreme Court."
Abbott also ordered that the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting maps drawn by Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 also to be immediately implemented. Those maps had been held up by court challenges based on the Voting Rights Act, and following today's ruling, those challenges are not lifted.
"The U.S. Constitutional establishes one United States, not a divided nation with different laws applying to different states," Abbott said. "Laws that apply unequally to just some states have no place in our nation. Today's ruling ensures that Texas is no longer one of just a few states that must seek approval from the federal government before its election laws can take effect."
The High Court, in a 5-4 ruling, said Congress has failed to adequately update the oversight provisions of the Voting Rights Act to conform to 'improvements' in minority ballot access made over the last fifty years.