AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said amicus
briefs were filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by a coalition of 10 states and 32
members of Congress in support of Texas’ voter ID law.
On Sept. 23, Paxton filed a petition for a writ of
certiorari in the Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law. A statement from the Attorney General’s Office said the petition does not affect
the Nov. 8 elections, for which an interim remedy has been ordered by
Paxton asked the Supreme Court to hear the Texas Voter ID
case after the Fifth Circuit court ruled that statistical disparity in the
preexisting possession of photo identification by members of different races was
sufficient to make Texas’ Voter ID law incompatible with Section 2 of the Voting
“These amici speak to the nationwide problem states face
when trying to preserve the integrity of their elections,” Paxton said in the
statement. “A total of 34 states request that voters show some form of
identification at the polls. Experience has shown that these protections work.”
The brief submitted by the states was filed by Alabama,
Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah
and West Virginia.
In their brief, the states address the question of whether Section
2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits enforcement of a voter ID requirement
based solely on a statistical racial disparity in preexisting ID possession and
socioeconomic status, without any evidence that the challenged rule has
actually prevented anyone from voting.
“This case is principally about Voter ID laws, which
represent the reasonable, nondiscriminatory exercise of Elections Clause
authority to modernize voting procedures, as the founders envisioned,” the
states said in their brief.
The states said Circuit Court rulings that allow plaintiffs
to come forward with new theories about the hypothetical impact of voter ID
laws and invite courts to re-weigh competing governmental interests undermine
existing rulings and stretch the law beyond its traditional scope, creating
unnecessary legal uncertainty for all voter ID laws.
“There is no reason to expect that Texas’s Voter ID law will
somehow cause substantial harm to voter participation, when nothing of the sort
has happened in 10 years of Voter ID in Indiana,” the states’ brief said. “What
matters is actual impact, not hypothesis and speculation based on snapshot data
acquired multiple steps removed from the voting booth.”
The congressional amicus brief was submitted by U.S. Sens.
John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana; U.S. Reps.
John Culberson, Blake Farenthold, Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, Bill Flores, Louie
Gohmert, Kay Granger, Michael Burgess, John Carter, Michael Conaway, Jeb
Hensarling, Will Hurd, Ted Poe, Sam Johnson, John Ratcliffe, Kenny Marchant,
Pete Sessions, Michael McCaul, Lamar Smith, Randy Neugebauer, Mac Thornberry,
Pete Olson, Randy Weber, Brian Babin and Roger Williams, all from Texas, and
U.S. Reps. John Fleming, Garrett Graves and Charles W. Boustany Jr. of Louisiana
and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi.
“Like other voting regulations, voter identification requirements
not only help prevent voter fraud, but also foster public confidence in elections — thus facilitating the peaceful, orderly transfer of power that is a hallmark
of American democracy,” the congressional brief said. “Unfortunately, the decision
of the en banc Fifth Circuit in this case creates a roadmap for invalidating
many such regulations.”
The congressional brief said under the Fifth Circuit’s rationale,
virtually any regulation that “incrementally and indirectly” increases the cost
of voting, whether in money, time or convenience, is in jeopardy of invalidation.
“Accordingly, the decision below will effectively shift to
federal judges the people’s authority to organize and regulate their own
elections,” the congressional brief said.