The Supreme Court said today that Texas can use its controversial new voter ID for the November election. A majority of the justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo identification in order to cast ballots. Three justices dissented. The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold. The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday.
The Supreme Court's order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left the district court decision in place. "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," Ginsburg wrote in dissent. Texas has enforced its tough voter ID in elections since the Supreme Court in June 2013 effectively eliminated the heart of the Voting Rights Act, which had prevented Texas and eight other states with histories of discrimination from changing election laws without permission. (Read more Texas stories.)