U.S. appeals court finds Texas Voter ID law Discriminatory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 21, 2016

Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org

The full U.S.Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled on Wednesday that a Texas law requiring voters to show a government-issued form of photo identification before casting a ballot is discriminatory and violates Section 2 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF had filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs-appellees in the case, including the Texas NAACP, Mexican-American Legislative Conference of Texas , and the U.S. Department of Justice who filed lawsuits in 2013 after Texas again passed a Voter ID law immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision invalidating a part of the Voting Rights Act. Texas’ law was known as the “strictest photo ID law in the country.” Under SB14, voters had to provide a current photo identification from a very limited list before permitted to vote – a Texas concealed handgun license was acceptable, but a college identification from a public university was not!

“Each time the challengers have gone into court to try to put Texas’ ID law on hold, they have argued that some 600,000 Texans — mainly, Latino and black voters who otherwise are eligible to vote — do not have the kind of identification documents that would satisfy the strict law.” said Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“On behalf of our pro bono clients, we are pleased with the result and happy to have been a part of such an important case. We are optimistic that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling will eliminate SB 14’s discriminatory voting impediments and support equal opportunities for racial minorities in Texas, including Latinos, to participate in future elections” said Milbank Washington, D.C. Managing Partner Andrew M. Leblanc.

The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the District Court with instructions to make changes that fix the "discriminatory effect" of the law, but to do so in a way that disrupts this year's election season as little as possible.

Texas’ prior preclearance requests to enact the law dating back to 2011 had been previously rebuffed by the Department of Justice and the courts. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch applauded the ruling and said in a statement, "This decision affirms our position that Texas’s highly restrictive voter ID law abridges the right to vote on account of race or color and orders appropriate relief before yet another election passes."

The international law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP was pro-bono co-counsel on the brief. Amici include LatinoJustice,the NALEO Educational Fund, the Hispanic National Bar Association, Hispanic Federation, Mi Famila Voto & Voto Latino.

The brief is here.

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