EXCLUSIVE: AG Paxton headed to SCOTUS for voter ID law

*Update* (9/23/16) A copy of TX Attorney General Ken Paxton's official petition to the U.S. Supreme Court can be seen here.


In July, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’ controversial voter ID law violated parts of the Voting Rights Act.

After the law went into effect in 2013, a group of activists sued Texas claiming the law intended to make it harder for minorities to vote because it requires a valid form of identification before a person can cast a ballot. Some accepted forms include: a driver's license or a concealed handgun license. The lawsuit made its way to the 5th Circuit Court of appeals, where over the summer they made their decision to uphold a previous ruling saying Texas' voter ID law violated parts of the “Voting Rights Act”.

On Thursday morning, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined FOX 7’s Elizabeth Saab for a live exclusive announcement about Texas’s latest move in the controversial ballot. On Good Day Austin, Paxton said he will file a petition with the Supreme Court on Thursday challenging the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling.

On the decision, Paxton said, “We appeal a lot of cases, but this is a really important case, this is something the legislature passed in 2011. It’s also something the voters supported.”

Paxton also added, “photo id is used all over our country, we use it getting on an airplane, getting in our hotel, actually even have to use it to get into a lot of federal buildings, as a matter of fact, the day of the argument, you had to show a photo id to get into the court to hear federal arguments. So we think this is very reasonable and it’s something the legislature strongly believes in. It’s my job to defend Texas law, and that’s what I am doing.”

The interview with FOX 7 is the only one he is giving on Thursday about the filing.

If the Supreme Court decides to take up the case, it will only affect future elections.

Separate from this filing, the state is also fighting the law in another Federal court. Texas had been ordered to strike a deal to soften the law for November's election. But the Federal Government claims they have violated that deal, and two weeks ago they filed a petition that included claims that Texas was giving out misleading information about voting.

On Tuesday, the Judge in that case, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos agreed, and ordered the state to follow through on the promises they made to change the language -- and to allow registered voters without an I.D. to cast a ballot in November. That case is making its way through the legal system but it's not clear what if anything will be resolved by November’s elections.

Kristen Clarke, the President and Executive Director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a statement to FOX 7 on behalf of the clients that her organization represents in the Texas voter ID litigation:

“It is shameful that Texas would prolong litigation and debate around a law that has been found discriminatory by the most conservative federal appeals court in the country.  More than 3.5 million dollars have already been spent by Texas defending a law that is discriminatory and taxpayers are the ones bearing the price. Texas should focus its time and energy on running a smooth election in November that provides all voters an opportunity to participate.”

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