The U.S. Justice Department, in a shift from its stance under former President Barack Obama, is dropping a discrimination claim against a Texas law that required voters to present identification at the polls, according to a draft court filing the agency sent the law’s opponents on Monday.
The Campaign Legal Center, one of several private groups alleging that the 2011 voter ID law was meant to discriminate against black and Hispanic people, said it received a notification from the Justice Department on Monday that the department would withdraw its discriminatory intent claim.
The Justice Department is doing so because the Texas legislature is considering changing the law in ways that might “cure the deficiencies” in it, according to a draft copy of the motion that the department sent to the Campaign Legal Center.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The Texas attorney general’s office, which is defending the law, also declined to comment.
A hearing in the case was scheduled for Tuesday in federal court in Texas. A federal appeals court in July ordered Texas to fix the law’s discriminatory effects against minorities, and told a federal district court to assess whether the law was passed with discriminatory intent.
Voting rights advocates accused the Justice Department under President Donald Trump of backing away from its previous defense of the Voting Rights Act.
“This case will go forward with or without the Justice Department. It’s just disappointing that they’re abandoning their enforcement of voting rights,” said Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)