Supreme Court keeps voter ID law in place for 2014 elections

Jackie Wang

Two days before early voting, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold Texas’ controversial voter identification law for the 2014 elections.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law Saturday, six to three, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voting against.

On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reinstate the voter ID law, known as Senate Bill 14. The law, which requires voters to bring a valid photo ID to the polls, will continue to be enforced with the Supreme Court’s decision. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled the law was unconstitutional less than two weeks ago, equating it with a “poll tax,” and saying it oppressed minority voters. 

Ginsburg wrote a six-page dissent on her reasons for overturning the previous decision to enforce the voter ID law, saying the Court of Appeals’ decision was made for the wrong reasons.

“Refusing to evaluate the defendants’ likelihood of success on the merits and, instead relying exclusively on the potential disruption of Texas’ electoral processes, the Fifth Circuit showed little respect for this Court’s established stay standards,” Ginsburg wrote.

Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that Texas’ voter ID law should remain in effect for the upcoming election,” Bean said. “The state will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court’s misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections.”

While the law will be in effect for this year’s elections, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to review its constitutionality.