LDF Files Response to Texas and DOJ in Voter ID Case
Yesterday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), together with other private plaintiffs, filed a response to Texas and the U.S. Justice Department’s briefs, which urge a federal district court to accept Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) as a remedy for a finding that SB 14, the strictest photo ID law in the nation, is racially discriminatory. LDF and other private plaintiffs oppose this position. SB 5, which Texas passed in 2017, maintains the same intentionally discriminatory limits on the forms of acceptable photo IDs from SB 14, passed in 2011. For example, under both SB 5 and SB 14, handgun licenses are acceptable for voting, but student and federal and state employee IDs are not. Additionally, SB 5 contains new provisions that would place the Black and Latino victims of Texas’s discriminatory law at disproportionate risk of being criminally prosecuted. For these and other reasons, LDF seeks to enjoin Texas from implementing both SB 14 and SB 5 and demands an adequate remedy for Texas’ unlawful conduct.
“It is a staggering falsehood to claim that this bill cures the discriminatory purpose of its predecessor,” said Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of LDF. “It is clear that SB 5 retains the core architecture of SB 14, a law that intentionally denies Black and Latino Texas voters their fundamental right to a fair and equal opportunity to vote. The state can repackage the discrimination in a new bill, but as long as it maintains its original purpose and has the effect of denying the right to vote to or placing undue burdens on Black and Latino citizens, we will challenge it vigorously.”
“We have the same goal with SB 5 as we did with SB 14: to wipe it off the books altogether,” said Leah Aden, LDF’s Senior Counsel. “The pattern of discriminatory legislation in the state of Texas makes clear that the state’s voting practices need judicial oversight going forward. And with this Justice Department showing little interest in vigorously enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, it is all the more critical for groups like LDF to aggressively fight against suppressive voter ID laws, which have no place in our country.”
In addition to stopping Texas from implementing SB 14 and SB 5, LDF seeks to place Texas under federal oversight for its voting changes based on its constitutional violations. Its request for such oversight is the subject of a separate briefing per order of the court. “We must recognize that in 2017, three different courts in Texas have found that the Texas legislature or a Texas local body have enacted intentionally discriminatory voting laws. This conduct is antithetical to our democracy and must be curtailed,” said Deuel Ross, an Assistant Counsel at LDF.
LDF has been challenging Texas’s photo ID since 2012. To learn more about this advocacy, visit our case page.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.