Texas Voters File Emergency Appeal with Supreme Court to Stop Texas Discriminatory Voter I.D. Law

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This morning, Texas voters and elected officials filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stay that would leave a Texas voter ID law in place for the coming election, despite the fact that a lower court had ruled the law unconstitutionally discriminatory and a poll tax.  The Campaign Legal Center is part of the legal team representing voters and elected officials adversely impacted by the law.

The filing comes in the wake of last night’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reinstating 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.”  As noted above, the District Court also found it to be an unconstitutional poll tax.

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.”  But today’s emergency application emphasizes that the Court of Appeals misapplied Supreme Court precedent on “voter confusion” and stresses that the confusion would actually be far greater if the law is in effect for the coming election.  Sworn Declarations from county election officials in Texas making this point accompanied the emergency application.

“The State of Texas has already created unprecedented voter confusion through its bungled implementation of this discriminatory law.  To leave it in place would only prolong that confusion and more importantly deny the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of Texans.  We trust the Supreme Court will recognize the errors made in the Fifth Circuit’s ruling,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of The Campaign Legal Center.  “The right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Texas voters hangs in the balance as a result of last night’s decision by the Fifth Circuit, which did not question the lower court’s ruling that the law was unconstitutionally discriminatory and would disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic Texans at vastly greater rates.  We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will recognize that and restore the vote to hundreds of thousands of Texans.”

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 today’s emergency application for a stay, click here.

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