Texas Voter ID Law Will Be Used Despite Federal Injunction

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The recent Texas voter ID laws that were blocked by a federal district court injunction have just had the enforcement of that order stayed pending the appeal, on the merits, by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that the new voter ID laws will remain effective pending the resolution of the case, despite the district court issuing a permanent injunction enjoining their enforcement.

However, it is worth noting that the newest provision of the law, under the recently passed SB5, permits voters to submit actual ballots upon the signing of a declaration under the penalty of perjury. As the appellate court explained, this procedure nearly obviates the need for the injunctive relief requested as it supersedes SB14 and allows voters without ID to vote.

Staying on Mandate

As the appellate court explained, the district court went beyond the scope on remand. This case has been litigated back and forth, and on remand, the district court was not supposed to examine SB5, but rather remain focused on SB14, which was the central issue in the litigation. The court stated:

Simply put, whether SB 5 should be enjoined - as opposed to whether it remedies SB 14's ills -- was not an issue before the district court on remand.

However, the appellate court did not reverse the decision, but merely put the permanent injunction on hold. Reviewing the circuit's own analysis, it seems clear that the panel of judges reviewing the matter view SB5, the proposed remedy to the problems with SB14, favorably.

While the appellate court's decision seems sound, a dissenting voice on the bench stated that the requirements for a stay of the injunction had not been met, that the state had not clearly shown it was likely to succeed on the merits. Additionally, the dissenting justice asserted that a broader stay, one that was also directed at the legislation itself, should have issued.

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