MALDEF WELCOMES FIFTH CIRCUIT RULING THAT TEXAS VOTER ID LAW VIOLATES THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
Texas Voter ID Law Unlawfully Impedes Minority Participation in Political Process
August 6, 2015
SAN ANTONIO, TX - Yesterday, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act, MALDEF—which litigated against Texas Voter ID in the preclearance phase—congratulated the plaintiffs and welcomed the Fifth Circuit ruling that the Texas voter ID law disproportionately impacts Hispanic and African-American voters, violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
"This is the third federal court ruling in as many years blocking the Texas voter ID law," stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation. "Texas should stop enacting laws that discriminate against minority voters and instead work to ensure elections are conducted fairly for all," continued Perales.
In August 2012, MALDEF and a team of advocates, challenging a Texas attempt to preclear its new and more restrictive voter ID law, as the state was then required to do under section 5 of the VRA, secured a federal court order in Washington, DC blocking the Texas voter ID law because it discriminates against Latino and African American voters. Unfortunately, after striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court issued an order allowing Texas to implement its voter ID law despite the earlier ruling. Voting advocates brought a second lawsuit under the surviving provisions of the Voting Rights Act and won a decision in Texas federal court that the voter ID law is discriminatory. That ruling was affirmed yesterday by the Fifth Circuit.
"What a phenomenal and lamentable waste of resources this re-adjudication of the plainly discriminatory Texas law represents," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "While we welcome this correct and appropriate decision, this case stands as an example of the inefficient and costly duplication of work by lawyers and courts forced upon the nation – and upon Texas taxpayers – by the Supreme Court’s execrable decision in Shelby County."
Although the Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court's ruling on the voter ID law's "discriminatory effect" against Latinos and African-Americans, the Court did not agree that the plaintiffs proved that Texas had “discriminatory intent." The Fifth Circuit sent this portion of the case back down to the district court for further review. The district court will have the opportunity to weigh the evidence according to the Fifth Circuit's instructions and issue a new ruling on the question of intentional racial discrimination. If the court finds intentional racial discrimination, Texas could be ordered once more to seek preclearance of its electoral changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.