The Texas Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the state’s law requiring people to obtain health insurance before they could vote could continue to be enforced after a legal challenge by the state of Texas.
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The justices said the state could continue enforcing the law after a court ordered a stay on enforcement, meaning people would not have to pay the full cost of their coverage and could still vote in the November election.
The decision was a win for the Texas Legislature and for a number of state Republicans who were pressing for the law to remain in place despite the court’s decision.
The court said the Legislature did not provide sufficient notice of the stay and therefore did not have the right to repeal it.
Texas Republican Gov.
Greg Abbott, who is seeking re-election next year, called the decision “a victory for Texas families and for our state.”
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Justices confirms that the Texas law that was challenged and blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Abbott said in a statement.
“We will continue to fight for fairness and equality in our state and the nation.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the law would be in effect for the next two years.
The court had previously ruled that Texas had the authority to keep enforcing the state law, but the court decided the law violated the Equal Protections Clause of that clause because it did not meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, which was enacted in 1965.
The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and governor were in court Monday morning as the case played out.
Attorney General Ken Paxton said the law’s constitutionality would be decided by the full court.
In the 5-4 ruling, the high court said that the Legislature’s notification requirement was “unreasonable” because it could have been accomplished by providing notice to Texans before the law took effect, which it did.
“As the Legislature has provided, the notice requirement could have resulted in less confusion for Texans, more certainty about the nature of the law and a more orderly implementation,” the court wrote.
It said the notice requirements were unnecessary because the law was clearly meant to target certain populations and did not target anyone else.
The ruling could have significant consequences for Texans who have been eligible to vote in Texas since 2006, when the state passed a law requiring all Texans to obtain coverage.
The law has been in effect since 2014, and it has been enforced with an average of almost 80,000 people a day, the Associated Press reported.