POLITICS

Battle Between Justice Department, Texas Over Voter ID Law To Begin In Federal Court

Attorney General Eric Holder during his meeting at the FBI building in St. Louis, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

Attorney General Eric Holder during his meeting at the FBI building in St. Louis, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)  (AP2014)

In a courtroom in Corpus Christi, Texas, lawyers for the Justice Department and minority rights groups on Tuesday will begin to lay out their arguments before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos for why Texas' voter ID law, which Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed in 2011 and took effect in June 2013, is an intentional attempt to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters.

Under the Voting Rights Act, if such intent is proved, the state would have to "preclear" changes to its voting laws with the Justice Department. Texas' voter ID law is among the most stringent in the nation, but there are other states with similar laws which are also being challenged in federal court.

It has become a bitter partisan battle, with opponents charging that the law is designed to suppress minority turnout and young people who typically vote Democratic, while supporters - including the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, which is arguing on behalf of the state - are saying that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department are ignoring the concerns of white Republican voters and favoring minority Democrats. 

"It's more of a political argument than it is a legal argument," J. Gerald Hebert, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs who are suing the state, which includes African-American U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, told the New York Times. "Texas wants to argue about everything except the facts of this case."

A spokesperson for Abbott's office pointed out to the paper, "Voter ID has already been used in several elections in Texas without the disenfranchisement claimed by partisnas who seem to be against election integrity."

The state's law requires potential voters to have one of five forms of government-issued identification, all of which have a photo of the person.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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