Fifth Circuit Freedom

Among the millions of laws passed throughout the history of the United States Congress, few can truly be recognized as “landmark” pieces of legislation. Many of those that are came from a time of outright social turmoil and rebellion: the 1960s. At the height of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that was instantly recognized as one that would stand among the landmarks of Congress. The president executed this document on August 6, 1965 and it is entitled the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This Act came as a direct result and opposition to the infamous and extensive techniques employed by state and local governments aimed at stopping minorities from voting. The Act details everything from the languages required on voting ballots to the means through which certain jurisdictions are permitted to make any changes affecting voting. The United States Department of Justice, to this day, considers this law among the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation ever written.

Texas & Voting

Texas has a long history with civil rights. For decades, the legislature of Texas has taken some creative liberties in interpreting civil rights and their application to the state. This past week another courtroom battle over the interpretation of a Texas law has finally seen some closure. The law in question required voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the booths. Last year a federal district court in Texas ruled that this law had a discriminatory effect on minority voters. Going one step further the court also found that legislators intentionally adopted a discriminatory law. In the 147-page opinion, District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos wrote that the law “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” This week the Fifth Circuit announced that they agreed that the law had a discriminatory effect. However, the court disagreed with the finding that Texas had intentionally adopted a discriminatory law. The decision was unanimous.

What Now?

While many opponents of the law are calling this ruling a victory, many proponents are saying the same. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick stated, “I strongly disagree with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which rejected a portion of that law. Texas’ Voter ID law was passed by the legislature with the intent of preserving the integrity of the voting process.” The strongly Republican-backed law unsurprisingly drew praise from the Texas GOP chairman Tom Mechler. “[It] doesn’t change the fact that Texas voters overwhelmingly support Voter ID as a commonsense policy to protect the sanctity of our electoral process. Simply put, most Texans know Voter ID is a vital component of conducting fair elections in our state.” Also unsurprisingly, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa commented that, “The Republican voter ID law is discriminatory. We remain confident that the courts will find justice for Texas voters and ultimately strike down this racist and discriminatory law.”

The appeals process is the judicial system’s way of reviewing its own decisions. At Brownstone Law we are passionate about assisting in this process. If you have questions about how to file a civil appeal contact our team today.

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