The State of Texas filed a reply brief today defending Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s position that the voter ID suits filed by the Justice Department and by African-American and Hispanic voters should be dismissed without need for a trial.
In addition to challenging the standing of some of the individual and organizational plaintiffs, the brief reiterated the state’s contention that the claims should be dismissed because the Texas voter ID law was “no more difficult than ‘the usual burdens of voting’” and argued that the plaintiffs had failed to “produce or allege the existence of any person, of any race, who could not get a free EIC because of anything other than what may be fairly characterized as that person’s choice.”
The brief also took sharp issue with the claim by DOJ and minority plaintiffs that the Texas law was far more restrictive than the Indiana voter ID upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008 in Crawford. Indeed, the state argued that Texas’ law was less restrictive in some respects, e.g., pointing to the state’s administrative enactment of a $3 fee for birth certificates if needed by a person to obtain an election identification certificate. (The brief did not address birth certificates needed by people born outside of Texas.)
The state also rejected the notion that the law could be the product of intentional discrimination, citing, among other things, polling showing that voter ID laws were popular among African-Americans and Hispanics in Texas as well as recommendations of the election reform commission headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker.
Last but not least, the state continued to draw a hard line with respect to ‘results test’ in section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, contending that the test - if applied as DOJ and minority plaintiffs wanted - would unconstitutionally impose liability for disparate impact alone. Although DOJ pointed to precedent which it said held otherwise, the state took the position that precedent cited by DOJ should be read as only addressing redistricting cases.
With today’s filing, briefing on the state’s motion to dismiss is now complete.
Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has not said whether she will hold oral argument on the motion or when she will decide the motion.