Fifth Circuit Reinstates Confusing Texas Voter I.D. Law for November Election

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Tonight, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reinstated the State of Texas’ Voter Photo ID (SB 14) law in Veasey v. Perry, just five days after a U.S. District Court struck down the law finding it had “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”  The District Court also found it to be an unconstitutional poll tax. The Campaign Legal Center is part of the legal team representing voters and elected officials adversely impacted by the law.

The Circuit Court said its opinion was based “primarily” on the “fast-approaching election”, and said the District Court’s decision would “disturb the election process of the State of Texas just nine days before early voting begins.”

“Unfortunately the Fifth Circuit’s stay will end up maintaining  the confusion that has been caused by the State’s error-riddled attempted implementation of the photo ID law over the last year,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of The Campaign Legal Center.  “It is deeply troubling that the court of appeals would allow an unconstitutionally discriminatory voter ID law to deny the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of African-American and Hispanic voters so as not to inconvenience Texas election officials by informing them they could no longer demand photo ID which the lower court condemned as a ‘poll tax’.  It would have been relatively easy, if the injunction had been allowed to remain in effect, for Texas to avoid any confusion by simply announcing to all poll officials and voters that the IDs that Texas voters have been using for the last twenty years (including photo IDs) would be permissible IDs in the upcoming election.  We intend to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court immediately.” 

The first challenge to the law was filed by the Campaign Legal Center in the summer of 2013 claiming that the voter photo ID law (SB 14) violates the 1st, 14th, 15th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, as well as Section 2 of Voting Rights Act.  Several challenges (including one brought by the United States) were brought against the Texas law, which was one of the most restrictive laws in the nation.  All of the cases were consolidated in the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi. 

The Campaign Legal Center is part of the legal team that includes Chad Dunn and K. Scott Brazil (Brazil & Dunn), Neil G. Baron, David Richards (Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith), Armand Derfner (Derfner, Altman & Wilborn), Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. (LULAC) and Craig M. Wilkins and Teresa G. Snelson (Dallas County District Attorney’s Office).

To read the Fifth Circuit Court’s opinion granting a stay pending appeal, click here.

To read the Legal Center's Brief in Opposition to the Emergency Motion to Stay Final Judgment Pending Appeal (October 12, 2014), click here.

To read the opinion of the District Court, click here