Justice Department asks court to dismiss claim of discrimination in Texas voter ID case

Voting booths set up and ready to receive voters inside a polling station in Christmas, Florida on November 8, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Election law expert Rick Hasen says the new motion may have little impact on the case itself
  • The federal government noted that the Republican-led Texas legislature is working on a new law

(CNN)The Justice Department asked a federal district court Monday to dismiss its claim that a Texas voter ID law was enacted with the intent to discriminate.

The move had been expected with the change of power in the White House, and is the latest example of President Donald Trump's administration halting legal efforts to push policies started under his predecessor.
Election law expert Rick Hasen says the new motion may have little impact on the case itself because private parties are also challenging the law, "but it is indicative of a pullback of the DOJ in this case and a sign of possible things to come— with DOJ either staying out of these cases, or coming in on the side of states that have passed strict voting laws," a reversal of practice under President Barack Obama's Justice Department.
    In a filing with the court, the federal government noted that the Republican-led Texas legislature is working on a new law. It had asked the Court to postpone a hearing scheduled Tuesday, but the Court declined to do so. In the new motion, the government argues that it has decided that "rather than continuing to litigate the serious purpose allegation on an evolving record" it would withdraw its claim now and give the Texas Legislature the "first opportunity" to enact a new law.
    There are two primary claims in the case: that Texas passed its law with a racially discriminatory intent, and that it also had a racially discriminatory effect.
    A federal appeals court agreed on the effects question, but sent the case back down to the lower court on the issue of discriminatory intent. A hearing on that issue is slated for Tuesday.
    Civil rights groups reacted angrily to the reversal by the Justice Department on Monday.
    It's the latest sign of Trump's Justice Department rolling back judicial efforts from the previous administration. Last week, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. That followed a joint notice filing earlier this month between the Justice Department and several states saying both sides moved to cancel a hearing related to an Obama-era fight over implementing the transgender bathroom guidance.