To read about more recent litigation over SB 14, Texas’ strict photo ID law, click here.
The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC) intervened in federal court to stop the state’s restrictive photo ID law. The attorneys representing the organizations in the case are the Brennan Center for Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, lawyers from the NAACP, Dechert LLP, and the Law Office of Jose Garza.
Texas originally sought preclearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in July, 2011. For a complete list of letters in the administrative proceeding, please click here. After delays caused by the state’s failure to submit sufficient information, DOJ announced it would not preclear the voter ID law on March 12, 2012. DOJ determined that Texas had failed to demonstrate that the law would not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters.
In a separate proceeding, the state filed a lawsuit seeking preclearance in the D.C. District Court in January, 2012. The court expedited the litigation in consideration of Texas’s request for a decision before the election and held a trial in July. The Texas NAACP and MALC joined the Department of Justice and other parties to the case in arguing that the new voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and could not be precleared.
On August 30, 2012, the federal court agreed, finding that Texas’s law violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This means that Texas could not enforce its photo ID law for the 2012 election in November. “[U]ncontested record evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining SB 14-qualifying ID will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty,” the court wrote in its opinion. “We therefore conclude that SB 14 is likely to lead to ‘retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.’” Texas’ Photo ID law was just one of the many restrictive laws passed in the states in the 2011–2012 legislative session. For more information on these laws, see the Brennan Center report Voting Law Changes in 2012. For information on voting laws pending this legislative session, see our regularly updated voting laws roundup.
The State of Texas has also claimed that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, and has filed a jurisdictional statement with the Supreme Court to this effect (see below). This claim will be litigated in the coming months, and the Brennan Center and other counsel in the case are defending the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act.
Supreme Court Documents
- Appellee-Intervenor’s Joint Motion to Affirm the Judgment of the District Court (05/09/2013) [PDF]
- Rodriguez’s Motion to Affirm the Judgment of the District Court (05/09/2013) [PDF]
- Attorney-General’s Motion to Affirm The Judgment of the District Court (05/09/2013) [PDF]
- Texas’ Jurisdictional Statement (02/19/2013) [PDF]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Replies
- Opinion Denying Texas’ Request for Judicial Preclearance (8/30/2012) [PDF]
- Defendant-Intervenors’ Reply Memo in Support of Proposed Findings Of Fact and Conclusions of Law (7/5/2012) [PDF]
- Attorney General’s Reply Memo in Support of the Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (7/5/2012) [PDF]
- Texas’s Response to the Attorney General’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (7/1/2012) [PDF]
- Texas’s Response to the Defendant- Intervenors Proposed Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law (7/1/2012) [PDF]
- Defendant-Intervenors Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (6/27/12) [PDF]
- Attorney General’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (6/25/2012) [PDF]
- Texas’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (6/20/2012) [PDF]
- Answer to Complaint by Defendant-Intervenors (3/15/2012) [PDF]
- Motion to Intervene as Defendants (3/12/2012) [PDF]
- Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene (3/12/2012) [PDF]
- Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (3/12/2012) [PDF]
- Expedited Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (1/24/2012) [PDF]