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Texas v. Holder

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.

Published: March 12, 2012

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

Find­ings of Fact and Conclu­sions of Law and Replies

Docu­ments Filed