AUSTIN (AP) _ Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hailed Monday's Supreme Court ruling that approves states' efforts to pass a voter identification law and said he looks forward to passing such a measure when the legislature meets again next year.

The ruling galvanizes a Republican-inspired effort that Democrats say will keep some poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots.

"With this legal challenge now behind us, I look forward to passing a fair voter ID law in Texas next year that fully protects the voting rights of all U.S. citizens registered to vote in Texas," Dewhurst said.

Efforts to pass a voter ID bill last year divided the Legislature along partisan lines. The measure, which would have required voters to present a photo ID, ultimately failed in a bitter Senate stalemate.

Democratic Sen. Mario Gallegos of Houston, who became a central player during the last legislative debate, called voter identification requirements "legal discrimination."

"As long as my constituents are in danger of suffering the indignity of being disenfranchised by an unjust law, I will oppose that and all similar legislation," Gallegos said.

During last year's debate, Gallegos was recovering from a major surgery, but returned to the Capitol to help his Democratic colleagues block the measure. A hospital bed was set up for him outside the Senate chamber.

Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis, of Houston, said the Supreme Court ruling would lead to disenfranchised voters.

"I will continue to fight to preserve the right to vote for all people, not just people with picture ID's," he said in a statement.

"To this point, no one has proven that there is any voter impersonation at the polls. Until they do that, voter ID requirements are still nothing but a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to turn away elderly, minority and young voters."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.