Texas NAACP v. Steen (consolidated with Veasey v. Perry)
On October 9, 2014, after an eight-day trial in Corpus Christi, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that Texas’s photo ID law, 2011 SB 14, creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Latinos and African Americans, was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose, and constituted an unconstitutional poll tax. Days later, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed the district court’s order in light of the upcoming election. The Supreme Court upheld that ruling, granting Texas permission to implement its photo ID law for the November 2014 election. Neither court considered the district court’s decision on the merits.
On January 27, 2015, Texas filed its opening brief appealing the district court’s decision on its merits before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. On March 3, 2015, the Brennan Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and co-counsel filed their response brief on behalf of the Texas NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC), arguing that the 5th Circuit should affirm the district court’s well-supported conclusions that SB 14 violates the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
On September 17, 2013, the Brennan Center, Lawyers’ Committee, and co-counsel filed suit in federal court challenging SB 14, Texas’s strict photo voter ID law on behalf of the Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC).
Texas SB 14 was originally enacted in 2011. It is one of the strictest photo ID laws in the nation, requiring voters to present photo identification from a very limited list before being allowed to vote. The law allows Texans to vote with a Texas concealed handgun license, but not with an ID from a public university or a tribal identification card. The law’s strict requirements disproportionately prevent certain groups of voters, including African-American and Latino citizens, from voting in person.
In 2011, the Brennan Center and others filed a successful suit in federal court to block implementation of SB 14 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The three-judge court unanimously found that the law discriminated against minority voters.
In 2013, the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, and by a 5-4 vote rendered Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act inoperable. Within hours, Texas announced that it would implement SB 14. Accordingly, this lawsuit was brought under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution, and requested ”bail-in” so that Texas will have to obtain preclearance for future changes to its voting practices. On July 2, 2014, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Southern District of Texas denied Texas’s motion to dismiss Texas NAACP and MALC from the case, allowing their claims to proceed. The trial was held in September 2014.
In addition to the Brennan Center, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs are the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Law Offices of Jose Garza, the national office of the NAACP, Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, Potter Bledsoe L.L.P., Dechert LLP, and the Covich Law Firm, LLC.
5th Circuit Appeal on the Merits
- Defendants-Appellants’ Opening Brief on Appeal before the 5th Circuit [1/27/2015] [PDF]
- Plaintiffs-Appellees’ Response Brief of NAACP / MALC Et. Al. [3/3/2015] [PDF]
- Department of Justice Response Brief [03/04/2015]
- Legal Defense Fund Response Brief [03/03/2015]
- Campaign Legal Center Response Brief [03/03/2015]
Motion to Stay District Court Decision Pending Appeal
- Petition to Stay Final Judgment Pending Appeal and Motion for Expedited Consideration (Redacted) (10/10/2014) [PDF]
- Defendants-Appellants' Advisory Statement (10/11/2014) [PDF]
- Opposition of the United States to Petition to Stay Final Judgment (10/12/2014) [PDF]
- Opposition of Veasey-LULAC to Petition to Stay Final Judgment (10/12/2014) [PDF]
- Opposition of the Texas NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of Texas House of Representative to Petition to Stay Final Judgment (10/12/2014) [PDF]
- Opposition of Taylor Respondents' to Petition to Stay Final Judgment (10/12/2014) [PDF]
- Opposition of the Texas League of Young Voters, et al. to Petition to Stay Final Judgment(10/12/2014) [PDF]
- 5th Circuit Opinion Granting Stay Pending Appeal (10/14/2014) [PDF]
- Veasey Plaintiffs Emergency Application to Vacate 5th Circuit Stay (10/15/2014) [PDF]
- NAACP/ MALC Et Al. Emergency Application to Vacate 5th Circuit Stay (10/15/2014) [PDF]
- U.S. Emergency Application to Vacate 5th Circuit Stay (10/15/2014) [PDF]
- State's Response to the Application to Vacate 5th Circuit Stay (10/16/2014) [PDF]
- Reply in Support of Emergency Application to Vacate 5th Circuit Stay (10/16/2014) [PDF]
- Supreme Court Decision (10/18/2014) [PDF]
- Complaint (09/17/2013) [PDF]
- Complaint of Congressman Marc Veasey (6/26/13) [PDF]
- Motion to Intervene by Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Imani Clark (8/26/13) [PDF]
- Complaint of United States (8/22/13) [PDF]
- Motion to Dismiss by State of Texas (10/25/13) [PDF]
- Response to Motion to Dismiss by Texas NAACP and MALC (11/22/13) [PDF]
- Order to Compel Production of Legislators’ Documents (4/03/2014) [PDF]
- Proposed Trial Protocol Advisory (4/14/2014) [PDF]
- Joint Brief in Opposition to Texas' Motion to Squash Subpoenas of Legislators(4/29/2014) [PDF]
- Joint Response by Plaintiffs in Opposition to Texas’ Request for Judicial Notice(5/13/2014) [PDF]
- Order on Legislative Privilege Issue (06/18/2014) [PDF]
- Order on Motions to Dismiss (07/02/2014) [PDF]
- Plaintiffs and Plaintiff-Intervenors' Proposed Findings of Fact of Conclusions of Law (09/19/2014) [PDF]
- District Court Opinion (10/09/2014) [PDF]
- Preclearance Letters Regarding Texas and South Carolina Voter ID Laws
- Collected Research and Publications on Voter ID
- Texas Legislators Forced to Turn Over Emails in Voter ID Lawsuit, Ryan Reilly, Huffington Post (April 7, 2014)
- Houstonians Without Voter Id Are Mostly Black and Poor, Angelica Leicht, Houston Press (August 26, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Law Goes to Trial, Pam Fessler, NPR (August 29, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Trial Begins as Elections Ramp Up, Paul J. Weber, Associated Press (August 30, 2014)
- 2 Sides Cite Discrimination as Battle on Texas Voting Laws Heads to Court, Manny Fernandez, The New York Times (September 1, 2014)
- Sky-high Stakes in Texas Voter ID Trial, Zachary Roth, MSNBC (September 2, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Law Struck Down by Federal Judge, Nolan Hicks, Houston Chronicle (October 9, 2014)
- Latina Judge Strikes Down TX Voter ID, Blasts History of 'Discrimination', Sandra Lilley, NBC News (October 10, 2014)
- Opponents of Voter ID Law Ask Court to Deny Stay, Edgar Walters, Texas Tribune (October 12, 2014)