Happy Voting Rights Act Eve! Thank you, 5th Circuit!

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Texas’s Voter ID Law

One day before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country wielded that law to strike down a Texas voter suppression law. A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion written by a George W. Bush appointee, held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and must, at the very least, be significantly weakened. Though the court did not accept every argument raised against the state’s voter ID law, and its opinion does not go nearly as far as a trial judge’s decision which also struck down this law, it is a significant blow to the state’s efforts to make voting more difficult.

Texas Democrats:

Commenting on today’s Republican discriminatory voter ID ruling, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“Texas Democrats believe that our nation and democracy is stronger when everyone is invited to participate in our electoral process.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for every Texas voter. Once again, the rule of law agrees with Democrats. The Republican voter ID law is discriminatory. Republicans made it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to cast their vote at the ballot box.

“We remain confident that the courts will find justice for Texas voters and ultimately strike down this racist and discriminatory law.

“I want to personally thank Congressman Marc Veasey, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, and all of our outstanding Democratic legislators who have fought to defend Texas voters from this discriminatory law.”

PDF of 5th Circuit Opinion: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinion

We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and remand for consideration of the proper remedy.” [ United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,

Rick Hasen analysis:

A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has issued an opinion which is a great (but not complete) victory for those challenging Texas’s strict voter id law. The court affirms that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, but rejects the claim of discriminatory purpose and that the law constitutes a poll tax. The court remands for more findings on discriminatory purpose and for a decision on the remedy to the Section 2 violation. That remedy could allow Texas to keep enforcing its law for most people, so long as it gives ways to vote for those who face burdens under the law.

This is a narrow but important victory coming on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act.[…]

It is quite possible that Texas will try to take this case en banc to the full 5th Circuit, or perhaps to the Supreme Court. It is also possible that Texas would let this play out in another round at the district court and then appeal, but that seems less likely.

This also strikes me as an opinion written as narrowly as possible to still give a victory to the plaintiffs. (Perhaps that was the price of a unanimous opinion?) Winning on a Section 2 claim, even given the narrow remedial scope (more on that below) is still a significant victory for Voting Rights plaintiffs and the Department of Justice.

  5 comments for “Happy Voting Rights Act Eve! Thank you, 5th Circuit!

  1. Portlaw
    August 5, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Good and great quote from Lewis at the start of this.

    • JanF
      August 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      He is one of my heroes. I am looking forward to the teleconference tomorrow with the president, John Lewis and Loretta Lynch.

      I am sure that Texas will appeal but to have the 5th Circuit concur with the district judge is huge. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had put together a strong case and deserves this outcome.

  2. JamieG
    August 15, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Good morning. Thanks, JanF for adding me and thanks to Di from Nova for sending me the information about joining.

    • JanF
      August 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Hi, JamieG!

      It looks like you found an old post. One of the things that takes a little getting used to is the layout of the Moose site and how to tend comments. On the GOS, it is much easier because you can go to a link called “Comments” and see who has replied to you. I have on my list of things to do to find a way to do that but until then, we have RECENT COMMENTS on the right sidebar and the RSS feed of comments (which I use) to let you know the new ones.

      RECENT POSTS show the latest posts and those are also arranged on the front page and in the FEATURED POSTS area.

      We usually meet in the Week-long Welcomings post which comes out every Sunday morning and lasts for a week. Here is this week’s …

      Week-long Welcomings from Moosylvania: Aug. 9th through Aug. 15th

    • Portlaw
      August 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Hi JamieG. Nice to see you~

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