Closing arguments began Friday in the trial that will determine the fate of Texas' controversial voter ID law.
Lawyers for Texas, the Justice Department and intervening groups supporting the Justice Department's position will make their final cases in a federal court in Washington on Friday morning. The case will rule if the law would disproportionately impact African American and Latino voters casting ballots at precinct polling places.
A three-judge panel is set to determine whether the 2011 Texas law violates the federal Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 to protect minorities' right to vote.
The Justice Department blocked Texas' law in March, citing the Act. The Justice Department, in turn, filed a lawsuit, bringing the case to a courtroom in Washington. The judges have heard four days of testimony from witnesses, including experts on statistics and elections and state lawmakers.
On Thursday, two Texas senators argued that the voter ID law was racially motivated and that it was rushed through a politically charged legislative session as Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign geared up for his GOP presidential campaign.
Democratic Sen. Carlos Uresti said that Republicans switched legislative rules to pass the bill and struck down amendments proposed by Democrats that would make it easier for minorities to obtain documents needed to vote.
The Justice Department has blocked the law from being put into practice and argues that the new voting requirements could disenfranchise 1.4 million elderly, minority and student voters throughout Texas. The state’s Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit in a U.S. District Court to have the decision overruled.
The current Texas law permits people with a voter registration card to vote with identification that does not have a photograph, such as a student ID and Social Security cards.
Voters with registration cards, but who do not have a valid Texas driver’s license or a concealed weapons permit, are disproportionately black and Latino, said Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard University professor.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.