5th Circuit Court of Appeals Finds Texas Voter ID Law Violates the VRA

For Immediate Release, Thursday, July 21, 2016

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’ voter ID law, thought to be the strictest such law in the country, was discriminatory and a violation of the Voting Rights Act, making this the third consecutive judicial decision against this law. In the 9-6 ruling, although the majority did not find that the law  intended to discriminate against certain voters, it had the effect of doing so.

It has been estimated that Texas' strict voter ID law could prevent 600,000 otherwise-eligible voters from casting ballots this November, and critics believe it was enacted to make voting more difficult for minority groups and lower-income voters.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Texas SB 14 has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the VRA because the law disproportionately diminishes African American and Latino opportunities to participate in elections.

The District Court is now required to create a short-term solution that can be implemented in Texas for the November Presidential election, writing, “…we rely on equitable principles in concluding that the district court should first focus on fashioning interim relief for the discriminatory effect violation in the months leading up to the November 2016 general election.” NYDLC applauds this decision and hopes that it sets a precedent for many similar ones to come.

NYDLC applauds this decision, which recognizes what so many voting rights advocates and experts have known for years--intentionally or not, these laws make it harder for certain groups of perfect eligible American voters to exercise their fundamental right to the franchise. If states intend to raise new procedural hurdles to voting, they must fully guarantee that the rights of their citizens, especially those who have historically been marginalized, are not infringed, before these laws are permitted to take effect.

You can read the Brennan Center for Justice's background analysis of the case here.

You can read the entire Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals En Banc decision here.