In a rare Saturday morning order, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will allow Texas to enforce a voter identification law in next month's midterm elections. The law’s opponents say that it will restrict the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of voters, the overwhelming majority of whom are poor and minority citizens.
A majority of justices rejected an emergency request from the Department of Justice and civil-rights groups to keep the state from enacting a law that requires citizens to produce prescribed forms of photo identification before they could cast a ballot, while three justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—dissented.
"The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters," wrote Ginsburg.
Last week, a federal judge struck down the restrictive law, saying that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because the were lacking the sufficient identification. In a 143-page opinion following a two-week trial, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the law an "unconstitutional burden on the right to vote," finding that the Republican-led Texas state legislature intentionally discriminated against minority voters. However, a federal appeals court on Tuesday put that ruling on hold.