Texas Minority Voters File Amended Challenge to State’s Voter ID Law as Justice Department Enters Fray

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Last night, Texas voters who would be adversely impacted by the law, civil rights organizations, elected representatives and a Texas county filed an amended challenge to Texas’ controversial voter ID law.  The amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of the law was filed in in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi on the same day the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its own challenge to the law known as Senate Bill 14 (“SB14”).  Both the amended complaint and the DOJ lawsuit include a request that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a three-judge federal court in the Washington D.C. blocked the Texas photo ID bill from taking effect, ruling that the law would have a discriminatory impact on minority voters.   The Supreme Court’s ruling in late June, however, struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that subjected Texas and fifteen other states to obtain approval of its voting practices and procedures.  Consequently, the DC federal court’s decision blocking the SB 14 from going into effect was vacated by the Supreme Court Within hours of the decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that Texas would immediately implement SB 14, even though the federal court had concluded the law was discriminate against minority voters. 

“This law was found by a federal court to be  discriminatory against racial and language minorities.  Yet once the decision was vacated, the State of Texas made no effort to mitigate the harmful aspects of the photo ID bill that the DC court identified in this blatantly discriminatory law,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center, which is a part of the plaintiffs’ legal team.  “Minority voters will be impacted and disenfranchised at vastly disproportional rates by this law.  We cannot stand idly by and let the voting rights of racial and language minority voters be trampled under this draconian law.”   

The original complaint was filed on June 26, 2013, the day after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision and the announcement that SB 14 would be implemented by Texas.  The suit was filed by Texas voters, U.S. Representative Marc Veasey and other elected officials in the state.  The amended complaint filed last evening added as plaintiffs additional voters adversely affected by the law, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Dallas County, Texas.  The expanded complaint argues that SB 14 violates the 1st, 14th, 15th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, as well as Section 2 of Voting Rights Act by denying and abridging the right to vote on account of race and language minority status.

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 amended complaint, click here.