Bloomberg News

Texas Asks U.S. Judge to Dismiss Photo ID Voter Lawsuit

October 26, 2013

Texas Voter Photo ID Law

Minority-rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department claim black and Hispanic voters “disproportionately lack” the photo ID required of all voters under a Texas law signed this year by Republican Governor Rick Perry. Photographer: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge should dismiss legal challenges to a Texas law requiring voters to show photo identification because the rule isn’t discriminatory and Texas has the right to set its own voter qualifications, state attorneys said in a court filing.

Texas also contends that the activist groups and elected officials suing to block implementation of the new law have no legal standing to challenge the rule. Only individual voters can sue to protect their own rights, the state said in a filing yesterday in federal court in Corpus Christi.

“Constitutional rights are an individual’s own to assert,” the state said. “The statutory language does not accommodate lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who seek to vindicate the constitutional rights of third parties.”

Minority-rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department claim black and Hispanic voters “disproportionately lack” the photo ID required of all voters under a law signed this year by Republican Governor Rick Perry. Residents must show one of six types of state-issued photo identification in order to vote in person.

“Texas has filed a motion to dismiss every election lawsuit we’ve ever filed, and they’ve all been dismissed,” said Luis Roberto Vera Jr., national general counsel for the League of Latin American Citizens, in a telephone interview.

All Races

Texas, which recently cut to $3 the cost of a birth certificate that can be used to get a free voter ID card, claims it isn’t more burdensome for residents to get the cards than it is to for them to get to the polls, “because minorities disproportionately lack access to motor vehicles.”

“The states also hold a constitutionally protected prerogative to establish the qualifications for voting in state and federal elections,” so long as the measures apply to all races, Texas’s lawyers said in the filing.

“The Texas Legislature’s eagerness to pass” the new measure “reflects the fact that voter-identification laws are politically popular; it is not evidence of racism,” they said.

The case is Veasey v. Perry, 2:13-cv-00193, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Corpus Christi).

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com.

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


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