Lawyers for the Justice Department and intervenors in the Texas voter ID case told the court yesterday that the court should put off consideration of Texas’ claim that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional until the Supreme Court decides the pending Shelby County v. Holder case next year.
That case involves a challenge to the statute by Shelby County, Alabama, contending that Congress acted without sufficient evidence in 2006 in extending section 5 coverage for another 25 years and that the formula for determining what states and sub-divisions are subject to section 5 is outdated.
The State of Texas disagreed and told the court that it should go ahead and decide the constitutional question being raised in the Texas case or otherwise its voter ID law “will be stuck in limbo until the end of the current Supreme Court term.”
The state told the court that “while Texas’s constitutional claims overlap with Shelby County’s to some extent, they may present distinct arguments (such as a challenge to the “non-retrogression” doctrine) whose resolution will not be affected or informed by the opinion in Shelby County.”
In the alternative, the state asked the court to enter a final order denying preclearance so that the state could go ahead and separately appeal the ruling on that portion of its claims to the Supreme Court. The intervenors told the court the state had missed its window to request such relief.
Here are the parties’ position papers:
I had thought that both sides would want to wait for SCOTUS, but clearly I was wrong. Now the DC Court has to decide which course of action to take, and as yet there’s no timeline for that. I would guess there may need to be a hearing for oral arguments before they make up their minds, but we’ll see about that. In the meantime, briefs are due tomorrow to the San Antonio court for the same should we wait or should we proceed question regarding new redistricting maps – more on that here. There I thought the intervenors would want to go ahead while the state wanted to wait, but now I’ll have to rethink that. PDiddie has more.