Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Voter ID plaintiffs ask for no stay

They’ve filed their response to the Fifth Circuit.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Attorneys challenging Texas’ voter ID law — which was struck down by a federal judge on Thursday — asked a federal appeals court on Sunday not to allow the state to enforce the law.

In a brief filed with the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals, lawyers for plaintiffs including the League of United Latin American Citizens argued that the law was unconstitutional. Attorney Chad Dunn wrote that the law should not take effect, in order to “allow the 2014 elections to go forward under the principles of true democracy.”

The brief came as a response to an emergency motion filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the law. Abbott, who is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked the appellate court’s mostly conservative judges on Friday to stay the lower court’s ruling and keep the voter ID law in effect for the November election.

The Chron story, which suggests we could get a ruling as soon as today, is more detailed.

The U.S. Department of Justice argued that relaxing the state’s identification law will not make any voters ineligible to cast a ballot.

“Registered voters who show up at the polls with only a form of S.B. 14 photo ID can, consistent with prior practice, cast a regular ballot,” the government wrote in its filing.

But Abbott, who is favored to defeat Democrat Wendy Davis in next month’s gubernatorial election, said in the filing that the law’s reversal creates sudden uncertainty.

“The district court’s opinion injects doubt where for 15 months, and three statewide elections, there had been certainty: Texas voters have understood that they are required to show up the polls with photo IDs, and Texas poll workers have understood the requirement to check for them,” wrote the state.

The decision to let the voter ID law stand this November will be made by three judges on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, generally considered a conservative court. The losing party could then either appeal that ruling to the full circuit bench, to the Supreme Court, or choose to do both. Either way, the ruling would eventually likely trickle up to the Supreme Court, who would quickly decide whether voters must present this identification.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California in Irvine, predicted that the 5th Circuit would rule in favor of Texas and issue a stay. Hasen said the relevant legal precedent, set in Purcell v. Gonzalez, shows that the courts have frowned upon changing election law right before voting begins.

“There’s a pretty good chance the court’s going to reverse the judge’s order and say: Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong on the legality of the voter ID law, for purposes of this election it’s going to stay in place,” Hasen explained.

See here and here for the background. I realize this would likely not be considered relevant by the Fifth Circuit, but it should be noted that the DC federal court also strongly rejected the voter ID law, though they didn’t get into the question of discriminatory intent since the burden in that case was on the state to prove the law wasn’t retrogressive. To use a technical legal term, two different courts found that this law stinks. Seems to me that’s a pretty compelling argument for not allowing said law to go into effect while the appeals process plays out. We’ll see what persuades the Fifth Circuit.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.