WASHINGTON, DC, July 25, 2016 – In a significant and closely watched voting rights case, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling on July 20 finding that a Texas voter-ID law (“SB 14”) violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In May, a pro bono team from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP submitted an amicus curiae brief in the case, Veasey v. Abbott, on behalf of six of the nation’s most prominent Latino nonprofit organizations. The brief argued that SB 14 violates Section 2 because it disproportionately burdens minority voters in Texas, including Latino voters, and suppresses minority voter turnout.
In reaching its decision, the Fifth Circuit endorsed a standard for vote denial cases that assesses the social and political context in which strict voter-ID laws like SB 14 are passed—an approach urged in Milbank’s brief, among others—and rejected the stringent standard advocated by Texas. In light of the impending general election, and because the Texas legislature will not be in session again until January 2017, the Fifth Circuit directed the district court to fashion an interim remedy to ameliorate SB 14’s discriminatory effects before the November election, while avoiding any disruption of the election. The complex, 203-page opinion also vacated and remanded to the district court for further consideration certain other issues not argued in Milbank’s brief.