Texas Voter ID statute held unconstitutional by U.S. 5th Circuit.

Marc Veasey, et al.,  v. Greg Abbott et al.,  v. United States of America, et al.  14-41127 (5th Cir. July 20, 2016)

This is a Voter Rights Act case where the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated SB 14 from 2011 which required several forms of photographic identification in order to vote.

When you add the majority opinion, concurring opinions and dissents this is 203 pages worth of analysis. A summary would still take several pages just to encapsulate the reasoning. As a result, this summary is simply hitting the bottom line. The district court held that SB 14 was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose, has a racially discriminatory effect, is a poll tax, and unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote. The State appealed from that decision, and a panel affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for further findings.  The State sought en banc review, which was granted. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that while some of the evidence relied upon by the district court was “infirm” other evidence supported a discriminatory purpose, so the matter was remanded for an evidence weighing analysis, especially in light of pretextual evidence under a disparate treatment claim. The court then adopted the two-part framework employed by the Fourth and Sixth Circuits to evaluate Section 2 “results” claims (i.e. disparate impact claims). Under this test, the court found the trial court did not error in holding SB 14 imposes significant and disparate burdens on the right to vote. The court remanded for a determination of an appropriate remedy given the severability clause contained within the statute. However, the court rendered a determination that SB 14 does not impose a poll tax. Given direction from the U.S. Supreme Court, the 5th Circuit instructed the trial court to evaluate an intermediate remedy in light of the November 2016 election, and  address full relief after the election.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. The panel includes chief Judge Stewart, Circuit Judge Jolly, Circuit Judge Davis, Circuit Judge Davis, Circuit Judge Jones, Circuit Judge Smith, Circuit Judge Dennis, Circuit Judge Clement, Circuit Judge Prado, Circuit Judge Owen, Circuit Judge Elrod, Circuit Judge Southwick,  Circuit Judge Haynes, Circuit Judge Graves, Circuit Judge Higginson, and Circuit Judge Costa. Per- Curuam. Attorney for Appellant: Scott A. Keller.  Attorney for Appellee: Chad Wilson Dunn.

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