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State of Texas vs. Chris Hollins

In State of Texas vs. Chris Hollins, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims the County Clerk of Harris County Texas does not have authority under Texas law to carry out a plan to send ballot-by-mail applications to all registered voters in the County. On September 8, 2020, the Anti-Defamation League Southwest Region and the Texas NAACP, represented by the Brennan Center and Dechert LLP, filed a brief in support of the Harris County Clerk.

Last Updated: October 14, 2020
Published: September 8, 2020

The Anti-Defam­a­tion League South­w­est Region and the Texas NAACP filed a brief in support of the Harris County Clerk in a lawsuit in which the Texas Attor­ney General seeks to stop the Harris County Clerk’s plan to send ballot-by-mail applic­a­tions to all registered voters in Harris County.

In State of Texas vs. Chris Hollins, Texas Attor­ney General Ken Paxton claims the County Clerk of Harris County Texas does not have author­ity to send ballot-by-mail applic­a­tions to all registered voters in the County. On Septem­ber 8, 2020, the Texas NAACP and the ADL South­w­est Region and, repres­en­ted by the Bren­nan Center and Dech­ert LLP, filed a brief in support of the Harris County Clerk.

Back­ground

On August 25, 2020, the Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, announced his inten­tion to send ballot-by-mail ballot applic­a­tions to all eligible voters in the County in advance of the 2020 elec­tion, accom­pan­ied by educa­tional mater­i­als explain­ing the ballot-by-mail process and detail­ing the state’s eligib­il­ity require­ments, among other inform­a­tion. Harris County has 2.4 million registered voters and is the most popu­lous county in Texas. It is also one of the state’s most racially diverse counties. Harris County is one of the largest voting juris­dic­tions in the United States.

On August 31, the Texas Attor­ney General initi­ated a lawsuit, on behalf of the State of Texas, against Chris Hollins, in his offi­cial capa­city as Harris County Clerk, in an attempt to block the Clerk from moving forward with this plan. The Attor­ney General argues that the plan exceeds the Harris County Clerk’s stat­utory author­ity.

On Septem­ber 8, the ADL South­w­est Region and the Texas NAACP filed a brief in support of the author­ity of the Harris County Clerk, arguing that the plan is plainly lawful under Texas elec­tion law.

On Septem­ber 2, in a separ­ate case, the Texas Supreme Court gran­ted a time-limited stay against the Harris County Clerk from send­ing applic­a­tions to registered voter under the age of 65 who have not reques­ted them, until five days after the trial court acts.

On Septem­ber 11, a Harris County district court denied the Attor­ney Gener­al’s applic­a­tion for a tempor­ary injunc­tion. The same day, the Attor­ney General filed a notice of accel­er­ated inter­locutory appeal to the First or Four­teenth Court of Appeals in Hous­ton.

On Septem­ber 14, the Four­teenth Court of Appeals issued an exped­ited brief­ing sched­ule. The appeal was fully briefed and submit­ted to the Court at 5:00pm on Septem­ber 16. The Bren­nan Center and Dech­ert LLP filed an amicus brief, on behalf of the Texas NAACP and the ADL South­w­est Region, in support of the Harris County Clerk.

On Septem­ber 18, the Four­teenth Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of the state’s applic­a­tion for a tempor­ary injunc­tion.

On Septem­ber 22, the state filed a combined peti­tion for review and open­ing brief in the Texas Supreme Court.

On Septem­ber 25, the Bren­nan Center and Dech­ert LLP an amicus brief, on behalf of the Texas NAACP and the ADL South­w­est Region, in support of the Harris County Clerk.

On Octo­ber 7, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the judg­ment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the trial court with orders to enter a tempor­ary injunc­tion against the Harris County Clerk.

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