Federal judge dismisses challenge to Alabama voter ID law


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s voter ID law.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler on Wednesday rejected arguments — by the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP — that requiring a photo ID to vote is racial discrimination, denies equal protection and violates the Voting Rights Act, as well as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The groups had filed a lawsuit against Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill among other former state officials over a 2011 law, House Bill 19, which requires absentee and in-person voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. The suit contended the law had disenfranchised some 280,000 voters and threatened hundreds of thousands more.

Judge Coogler noted in his order that it is easy for anyone to get a photo in ID in Alabama, thus the law is not discriminatory.

“…A person who does not have a photo ID today is not prevented from voting if he or she can easily get one, and it is so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, no on is prevented from voting,” Coogler wrote in the order.

He also determined “minorities do not have less opportunity to vote under Alabama Photo ID law because everyone has the same opportunity to obtain an ID.”

Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall called the decision to dismiss the suit, the right decision.

“Today’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit is without a doubt the right decision,” said Marshall. “Alabama’s voter identification law is one of the broadest in the nation with procedures in place to allow anyone who does not have a photo ID to obtain one.”

But NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill said the group is not giving up and is considering its next steps.

“We are deeply disappointed by the judge’s ruling dismissing our case before trial,” said Ifill. “Over the course of two years, we have developed a sound case demonstrating that Alabama’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory. We had hoped to present our full case at trial next month. We have no intention of abandoning our commitment to protecting the rights of African-American voters in Alabama, and we are considering our next steps.”

View the full court order below:


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