Here's one tangible result from today's Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act: Texas is going to require voters to have photo IDs "immediately," says state attorney general Greg Abbott. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government," he adds, according to DallasNews.com. Prior to today's court ruling, the state was one of nine that needed to clear such changes in advance with the feds. Not any more, or at least not until Congress comes up with a modern formula to determine which states and localities need that kind of "preclearance." The prospects of that happening in this Congress? Slim to none, reports the Washington Post.
As a result, DMV offices in Texas will begin issuing free photo IDs to anyone who needs one—people without drivers' licenses, for example—as of Thursday. Without them, people won't be able to vote. The state passed its voter ID law in 2011, but the Obama administration blocked it from going into effect—citing the Voting Rights Act—and it's been hung up in the courts ever since. In fact, an appeal is pending at the Supreme Court, but the state thinks it now has the right to move forward. (The ACLU concedes that the state has a "very strong argument.") Critics say voter ID laws in general discriminate against minorities and low-income voters. Now, it appears that the only legal challenges to them in Texas and elsewhere will have to come after the fact, once they've been implemented, reports the New York Times. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)