Texas has asked the full bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to rehear civil rights plaintiffs’ case against the state’s voter ID law after a three-judge panel from the same court ruled that the law discriminates. Because the state’s request for a rehearing is pending, and since Texas may also seek a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit in a Sept. 2 order rejected civil rights plaintiffs’ proposals to have the litigation remanded to the trial court, where a judge could have ordered Texas to immediately start changing how it identifies voters. “We will get those decisions pretty quickly,” Rolando Rios, of San Antonio’s Law Office of Rolando L. Rios, said about the rulings on the en banc Fifth Circuit and Supreme Court hearings. Rios represents the Texas Association of Hispanic County Judges and County Commissioners, which is an intervening plaintiff in the litigation.
But the U.S. Department of Justice, which has sided with the civil rights plaintiffs in the litigation, wants to avoid any wait for Texas to redo its voter ID procedures. To that end, the DOJ also filed on Sept. 2 a motion requesting that the Fifth Circuit enter an injunction directing Texas to accept as sufficient valid voter registration certificates from voters who lack the specific list of documentation required under the law SB-14, which the Fifth Circuit’s three-judge panel struck down. Passed in 2011, SB-14 requires voters to show specific government-issued photo identifications. Among the identifications the law allows voters to show: driver’s licenses, concealed handgun licenses, U.S. military identifications, U.S. passports or other U.S. citizenship certificates.
The DOJ’s Sept. 2 motion also asks the Fifth Circuit to order Texas to educate voters about any court-ordered modifications of voter identification procedures.