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Longoria v. Paxton

The Brennan Center and co-counsel filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a provision of Texas’s new omnibus voter suppression law that makes it a crime for public officials and election officials to encourage eligible voters to apply to vote by mail.

Last Updated: March 29, 2022
Published: December 10, 2021

Voting in Texas has never been easy. Even before the Texas Legis­lature passed S.B. 1, Texas was among the states that make it hard­est for voters to register and vote, with some of the most oner­ous voting restric­tions in the coun­try.

But on August 31, the Texas legis­lature made it even harder to vote by passing S.B. 1, an omni­bus voter suppres­sion bill. S.B. 1’s “anti-soli­cit­a­tion” provi­sion makes it a state jail felony for public offi­cials and elec­tion offi­cials to soli­cit mail ballot applic­a­tions from voters who are eligible or may be eligible to vote by mail.

On Decem­ber 10, the Bren­nan Center and the Harris County Attor­ney’s Office filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the West­ern District of Texas against Texas Attor­ney General Ken Paxton, chal­len­ging S.B. 1’s anti-soli­cit­a­tion provi­sion under the U.S. Consti­tu­tion. For more inform­a­tion about the Bren­nan Center’s lawsuit chal­len­ging other provi­sions of S.B. 1, LUPE v. Abbott, click here.

We repres­ent Harris County Elec­tions Admin­is­trator Isabel Longoria and Cathy Morgan, a volun­teer deputy regis­trar. Plaintiffs assert that S.B. 1’s anti-soli­cit­a­tion provi­sion viol­ates the First and Four­teenth Amend­ments because it crim­in­al­izes consti­tu­tion­ally protec­ted speech.

Plaintiffs are also repres­en­ted by Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Longoria is also repres­en­ted by the Harris County Attor­ney’s Office.

On Decem­ber 27, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint naming the local district attor­neys of Harris County, Willi­am­son County, and Travis County as defend­ants in the lawsuit. And on Decem­ber 28, Plaintiffs filed a prelim­in­ary injun­c­­tion request­ing the court to enjoin S.B. 1’s anti-soli­­cit­a­­tion provi­­sion no later than Febru­ary 14, 2022. Plaintiffs sought this quick relief to ensure that Texas voters can meet the dead­line of Febru­ary 18, 2022, to request a mail ballot applic­a­­tion for the March 1, 2022 primary elec­­tion. Follow­ing a hear­ing on Febru­ary 11, 2022, the Court gran­ted plaintiffs’ motion for a prelim­in­ary injunc­tion, barring the defend­ants from enfor­cing the anti-soli­cit­a­tion provi­sion against them during the lawsuit.

The Attor­ney General and Willi­am­son County district attor­ney appealed portions of the prelim­in­ary injunc­tion to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral argu­ment is sched­uled for March 8, 2022. In the mean­while, the Fifth Circuit has tempor­ar­ily stayed the appealed portions of the prelim­in­ary injunc­tion until it has a chance to review the appeal. The portion of the prelim­in­ary injunc­tion protect­ing Longoria from crim­inal prosec­u­tion and Morgan from crim­inal prosec­u­tion in Travis County remain in effect.    

On March 21, 2022, the Fifth Circuit asked the Texas Supreme Court to inter­pret the mean­ing of S.B. 1’s anti-soli­cit­a­tion provi­sion as a matter of Texas law. Oral argu­ment before the Texas Supreme Court is sched­uled for May 11, 2022.


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Circuit Court

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