Section four of the Voting Rights Act has been eliminated, and Texas can now legally enforce its voter I.D. law according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Section four outlined which states would fall under the discretion of the Department of Justice what would require pre-clearance for implanting new voting laws under section five. Moments after the Supreme Court decision, Abbott issued a statement saying the Texas Voter I.D. law would take effect immediately.
The law had been tied up in court since its passage in 2011 but with the decision, Michael Li, a Dallas lawyer who has monitored Texas’ through the court system, said it can go through.
"Those likely would have been resolved over the next couple of years but now that there’s effectively no section five - because there’s no coverage formula - the appeals are dead and the laws that were at issue can be enforced," Li said.
Li said with no section four, other states can now likely pass changes to voting laws without any Department of Justice hurdles, but those changes can still be subject to lawsuits from civil rights and advocacy groups.
Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, said those suits could take years and that it will be up to congress to change the law.
"Unfortunately I’m not very confident in Congress these days and if they do not replace the section that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the end it’s going to be our citizens that are vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority," said Villarreal.
Without the formula method in place, Texas can also enforce redistricting maps from 2011 that were previously ruled unconstitutional.