Important Victory for Texas Voters: Restrictive Voter ID Law Rejected by Federal Court
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2012
Law Could Have Hurt Hundreds of Thousands of Minority Voters Without ID
Allows Texas Voters to Exercise their Fundamental Right to Vote
Stacie Royster, Director of Communications
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Washington, D.C. - A three-judge federal court today issued a major decision blocking the use of Texas's 2011 photo ID law, which could have hurt hundreds of thousands of minority voters who lack the required ID. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law commends the court's decision as a victory not only for minority voters, but for disabled, low-income and elderly voters as well, all of whom would be excessively burdened by Texas' ID requirements.
In 2011, a wave of suppressive laws were passed that could make it significantly harder for millions of eligible Americans to cast ballots this fall. The Texas decision marks the first time a federal court has blocked a restrictive voter ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
"A million or more eligible Texans lack photo ID and the court's decision is a clear victory on their behalf," said Bob Kengle, Co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "This decision sends a strong message that states passing photo ID laws need to fix the problems with them. If they won't do it on their own then the courts will force them to do it."
The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC), along with the Justice Department and others, presented evidence showing the law would make it unnecessarily hard to vote - potentially disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of minority voters at a greater rate than the white electorate. The federal court found that Texas had failed to show that its law lacked a retrogressive effect in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This means Texas cannot enforce its photo ID law for the 2012 election in November.
Texas' voter ID law is just one in a wave of restrictive voting measures that states adopted in 2011. See the Lawyers' Committee's "Map of Shame" displaying the states that enacted these restrictive voting measures, and the Brennan Center's report Voting Law Changes in 2012.
The attorneys representing the Texas NAACP and MALC in the case are Dechert LLP, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP office of General Counsel, and the Law Office of Jose Garza.
The Lawyers' Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. The organization marshals the pro bono resources of the bar for election protection, litigation, public policy advocacy and other forms of service by lawyers to the cause of civil rights.