Texas' voter ID law struck down in federal court

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(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - A federal court has ruled against a Texas law that would require voters to present photo IDs to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots in November.

A three-judge panel in Washington ruled Thursday that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reports the law required new forms of voter identification even for Texas residents who have long voted accurately.

The court ruled that the new voter identification law in Texas would have an unconstitutional impact on the right to vote for poor people and especially Hispanics and African-Americans - the same minorities who were protected earlier in the week from Republican redistricting by another federal court panel.

This is the third court ruling in the past three days out of the federal courts striking down Republican voter laws. A federal panel on Wednesday blocked a Florida registration measure from continuing in effect. South Carolina's strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse. A court ruling in the South Carolina case is expected in time for the November election.

An appeal is likely in the Texas case, but there is no guarantee that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to want to get involved in this case, or any of these voting rights case, before the election. On the other hand, the justices in 2008 said that states could impose some voter identification restrictions.

Federal court finds discrimination in new Texas voting maps

Earlier in the week, Texas' voting districts were thrown again into upheaval after a federal court found evidence of discrimination in new district maps drawn and approved by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature last year.

The U.S. District Court in Washington wrote in a 154-page opinion that the maps don't comply with the federal Voting Rights Act because state prosecutors failed to show Texas lawmakers did not draw congressional and state Senate districts "without discriminatory purposes."

The ruling applies to the maps originally drawn by the Legislature in 2011, and not interim maps drawn by a San Antonio federal court that are to be used in the upcoming elections this November.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen said the Supreme Court likely will have the final say the case of voting maps, and it's been quite supportive of Republican redistricting efforts in the recent past. There's likely to be some sort of expedited appeal.

This ruling was a blow to the GOP because it keeps in place the current voting districts.

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