Under Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act, certain sections of the country, including Texas, must receive permission from the U.S. attorney general or a three-judge panel in Washington before implementing voter changes.
Blocked by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Texas officials asked the three-judge panel for a "declaratory judgment" that the state voter ID law "neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color" or membership in "a language minority group," as required by Section 5.
U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel said in his opinion the three-judge panel finds "that Texas has failed to make this showing -- in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, (the voter ID law) will likely have a retrogressive effect. Given this, we have no need to consider whether Texas has satisfied Section 5's purpose element. Accordingly, we deny the state's request for a declaratory judgment."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- who signed the legislation into law May 27, 2011 -- posted a statement on his Web site calling the court ruling a "victory for fraud."
"Federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections," Perry said. "The Obama administration's claim that it's a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense. I will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott to fight for the same right that other states already have to protect their elections."
In a statement, Holder said the decision and another court ruling this week tossing sections of Texas' redistricting maps "not only reaffirm -- but help protect -- the vital role the Voting Rights Act plays in our society to ensure that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted."
"The Justice Department's efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive and even-handed," he said.
Texas can still fight for the law though its request for a declaratory judgment was rejected. Tatel ordered officials from the U.S. Justice Department and Texas "to meet and confer as to a schedule to govern the constitutional issue and to file an advisory within 14 days."
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