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Trump Department of Justice Seeks and is Granted Postponement of Hearing on Texas Photo ID Case

Only hours after the inauguration, the Department of Justice requested to postpone Tuesday’s hearing in the Texas photo ID case. It was scheduled to argue that the state had intentionally discriminated against Latino and African American voters.

January 20, 2017

Today at 4:41 p.m. ET, only hours after the inaug­ur­a­tion, the Depart­ment of Justice reques­ted to post­pone Tues­day’s hear­ing in the Texas photo ID case, which was gran­ted. The Depart­ment was sched­uled to argue that the state had inten­tion­ally discrim­in­ated against Latino and African Amer­ican voters when it passed the ID law.  

The DOJ had previ­ously argued that the hear­ing should occur exped­i­tiously. The hear­ing has been resched­uled for Feb. 28. 

Back­ground

A federal court in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. first blocked Texas’s voter ID law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, find­ing that the law would have a dispro­por­tion­ate negat­ive impact on minor­ity citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separ­ate case) ruled that the formula used in the Act for specify­ing the states covered by Section 5 is uncon­sti­tu­tional. As a result, Texas is not currently required to comply with Section 5. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attor­ney General Greg Abbott announced the state would imple­ment the voter ID law.

In Septem­ber 2013, the Texas State Confer­ence of the NAACP and the Mexican Amer­ican Legis­lat­ive Caucus of the Texas House of Repres­ent­at­ives, or MALC, chal­lenged the Texas law. That case was consol­id­ated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attor­neys repres­ent­ing the groups include the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dech­ert LLP, The Bled­soe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

At the Septem­ber 2014 trial, the Texas NAACP and MALC, the Depart­ment of Justice, and others presen­ted evid­ence show­ing the state’s ID require­ment would erect discrim­in­at­ory barri­ers to voting. At trial, experts test­i­fied that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of govern­ment-issued photo ID that would have been accep­ted under the new law — and minor­it­ies would be hit the hard­est. For example, the court cred­ited testi­mony that African-Amer­ican registered voters are 305 percent more likely and Latino registered voters 195 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID that can be used to vote.

An Octo­ber 2014 opin­ion by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos concluded the photo ID require­ment viol­ated 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 Texas cease imple­ment­ing the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect for the 2014 elec­tion.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision find­ing the law had a racially discrim­in­at­ory effect in viol­a­tion of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The appel­late court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discrim­in­at­ory intent find­ing for further review. That hear­ing was sched­uled for Tues­day, Jan. 24.

Read more on the case here and here

Contact:

Rebecca Autrey

Bren­nan Center

646–292–8316

rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu

Summer Luciano

MALC

512–236–8410

slucian­o@malc.org

Gary Bled­soe

Bled­soe Law Firm

512–322–9992

garybled­soe@s­b­c­g­lobal.net

Daniel Covich

Covich Law Firm LLC

361–884–5400

daniel@­covich­law­firm.com

Robert Notzon

Law Office of Robert Notzon

512–799–4744

rober­t@notzon­law.com

Jose Garza

Law Office of Jose Garza

210–392–2856

garzpalm@aol.com

Stacie Burgess

Lawyers’ Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law

202–662–8372

press@law­yer­scom­mit­tee.org

Beth Huff­man

Dech­ert LLP

215–994–6761

beth.huff­man@­dech­ert.com