From Michael Li:
The State of Texas is seeking permission from the three-judge panel in the voter ID case to file an amended complaint that would directly challenge the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The amended complaint told the court in the introduction that, as an alternative grounds for relief, “the State of Texas seeks a declaration that section 5, as most recently amended and reauthorized by the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and conflicts with Article IV of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.”
With the filing, Texas now moves to the forefront, along with the Shelby County case out of Alabama, in re-raising the constitutional issue after the high court’s 2009 decision to punt the issue. However, because Texas’ case, unlike the Shelby County case, involves a three-judge panel, appeals from the case would go directly to the Supreme Court. That means Texas’ case has the potential for getting to the Supreme Court first, depending on how the timing works out. (Shelby County was argued in late January at the D.C. Circuit and is pending decision.)
Here’s an AP report that’s wordier but essentially the same otherwise, and a Statesman story that has a little more, including a quote from Michael Li. Just because the state asks doesn’t mean they’ll be granted their motion, and of course just because they throw the bomb doesn’t mean they’ll connect. But needless to say, the stakes are higher now. You can see a copy of the amended complaint here, and Rick Hasen has a good summary of what it’s all about as well. The action will happen quickly, now with more intervenors, so stay tuned.