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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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