A federal appeals court ruled today that Texas' voter ID law has a "discriminatory" effect on minorities—a victory for President Obama, whose administration took the unusual step of bringing the weight of the Justice Department to fight a wave of new ballot-box restrictions passed in conservative statehouses. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 Texas law runs afoul of parts of the federal Voting Rights Act, handing down the decision on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights law. Texas was allowed to use the voter ID law during the 2014 elections, thereby requiring an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters to have a photo ID to cast a ballot.
Other Republican-controlled states, including Wisconsin and North Carolina, have passed similar voter ID measures in recent years, but the Texas law signed by then-Gov. Rick Perry is widely viewed as one of the nation's toughest. It requires one of seven forms of approved identification, a list that included concealed carry licenses but not a college student's university ID. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called it "imperative" that Texas has a voter ID law and said the state will continue fighting for the measure. (Read more Texas stories.)