After a two-week trial hearing conducted in September 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down Texas' voter photo I.D. law with a 147-page opinion issued on October 9, 2014.
Judge Ramos found the law had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax. Two days later, and less than two weeks before the start of early voting for the November 2014 gubernatorial election, Judge Ramos entered an injunction blocking the law.
Greg Abbott, the state attorney general for Texas and then Republican candidate for governor, immediately filed an emergency motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking that appellate court to stay Judge Ramos' final judgment pending appeal and asked for expedited consideration. The Fifth Circuit Court did stay Judge Ramos’s injunction saying, "We must consider this injunction in light of the Supreme Court’s hesitancy to allow such eleventh-hour judicial changes to election laws.
Plaintiffs in the District Court case immediately appealed the Fifth Circuit Court's decision with the Supreme Court. The brief filed with the Supreme Court said confusion at the polls was unlikely under Judge Ramos’s injunction. “Expanding the list of acceptable IDs will not disenfranchise any voter,” the brief said, “since the forms of ID acceptable under the old voter ID system include all forms of photo ID specified by” the 2011 law.
The Supreme Court upheld the appellate court's emergency stay against Judge Ramos’s injunction, allowing Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November 2014 election. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent to the court’s order saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent. Justice Ginsburg wrote, the law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.” Justice Ginsburg added that, “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”
The "emergency stay" blocking Judge Ramos' action to strike down Texas' photo voter ID law will remain in place while the State of Texas appeals Ramos' ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court - and ultimately the Supreme Court - for a final determine.