Texas NAACP v. Steen (consolidated with Veasey v. Perry)
In 2011, the Texas legislature passed SB 14, the strictest photo ID law in the nation. For example, the law requires voters to present photo identification from a very limited list before being allowed to vote. A Texas concealed handgun license is acceptable, but an ID from a public university or a tribal identification card is not.
After a long procedural history, described in detail below, on August 5, 2015, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a federal trial court’s earlier finding that Texas’s strict photo ID law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The appellate court agreed with plaintiffs that SB 14 has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The panel also ruled that the district court should hear more evidence on the intentional discrimination claim, and it vacated the district court’s finding that SB 14 violates the U.S. Constitution.
Texas has asked the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case and allow the law to stay on the books while the state requests Supreme Court review. The full Court of Appeals is considering both motions, and Texas has vowed to apply SB 14 in the current election, notwithstanding the fact that three courts have struck the law down, and that when the law was applied during the November 2014 election, it cut many voters out of the political process.
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Texas SB 14 was originally enacted in 2011. 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. The trial was held over 8 days in Corpus Christi, in September 2014.
An October 2014 opinion by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos concluded that Texas’s strict photo ID requirement violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right vote, was passed by the Texas legislature with the intent to discriminate, and constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. The judge ordered that the law cease to be implemented.
Days after the district court’s ruling, 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. The Brennan Center chronicled the many instances of resulting vote denial.
In addition to the Brennan Center, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs the Texas State Conference of the NAACP and MALC 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. (3/03/2015) [PDF]
- Plaintiff-Appellees' Response Brief of the United States of America (3/04/2015)
- Plaintiffs-Appellees' Response Brief of Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Imani Clark (3/03/2015)
- Plaintiffs-Appellees' Response Brief of the Veasey-LULAC Plaintiffs (3/03/2015)
- Oral Argument Recording (4/28/2015)
- Fifth Circuit Opinion (8/5/15)
- Motion for Limited Remand (8/20/15)
- Appellees' Motion to Expedite the Issuance of the Mandate (8/20/15)
- Appellants' Opposition to Appellees' Motions for Limited Remand (8/28/15)
- Appellants' Petition for Rehearing En Banc (8/28/15)
- Appellants' Motion to Stay the Mandate Pending a Petition for Certiorari (8/28/15)
- Opposition of the United States to Petition for Rehearing (9/10/15)
- Opposition of the United States to Motion to Stay the Mandate (9/10/15)
- Veasey-LULAC Opposition to Petition for Rehearing (9/10/15)
- Veasey-LULAC Opposition to Motion to Stay (9/10/15)
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-LULAC 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]
- The Texas Voter ID and the 2014 Election: A Study of Texas's 23rd Congressional District
- Preclearance Letters Regarding Texas and South Carolina Voter ID Laws
- Collected Research and Publications on Voter ID
- Texas Photo ID Law Blocks Legitimate Voters
- Bittersweet Victory in Texas on 50th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act, Jennifer L. Clark, MSNBC (August 6, 2015)
- Texas ID Law Called Breach of Voting Rights Act, Erik Eckholm, The New York Times (August 5, 2015)
- Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Minorities, 5th Circuit Panel Rules, Bobby Blanchard, The Dallas Morning News (August 5, 2015)
- Photo ID Not That Easy to Obtain, Mary Lou Miller, MySanAntonio (June 12, 2015)
- Texas Lawmakers Are Busy Making It Harder to Vote, Gary Bledscoe and Jennifer Clark, The Dallas Morning News (May 18, 2015)
- Judge: Why Didn't Lawmakers Address Voter ID Concerns?, Jim Malewitz (April 28, 2015)
- Opponents of Voter ID Law Ask Court to Deny Stay, Edgar Walters, Texas Tribune (October 12, 2014)
- Latina Judge Strikes Down TX Voter ID, Blasts History of 'Discrimination', Sandra Lilley, NBC News (October 10, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Law Struck Down by Federal Judge, Nolan Hicks, Houston Chronicle (October 9, 2014)
- Sky-high Stakes in Texas Voter ID Trial, Zachary Roth, MSNBC (September 2, 2014)
- 2 Sides Cite Discrimination as Battle on Texas Voting Laws Heads to Court, Manny Fernandez, The New York Times (September 1, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Trial Begins as Elections Ramp Up, Paul J. Weber, Associated Press (August 30, 2014)
- Texas Voter ID Law Goes to Trial, Pam Fessler, NPR (August 29, 2014)
- Houstonians Without Voter Id Are Mostly Black and Poor, Angelica Leicht, Houston Press (August 26, 2014)
- Texas Legislators Forced to Turn Over Emails in Voter ID Lawsuit, Ryan Reilly, Huffington Post (April 7, 2014)