MALDEF Blocks Texas’ Discriminatory Voter-ID Law in Federal Court

Court Holds Texas Law Will Harm Minority Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a federal court in Washington DC issued a ruling in Texas v. Holder denying preclearance under the Voting Rights Act for Texas' proposed voter ID law. The court concluded that Texas was unable to show that its voter identification law was non-discriminatory. Moreover, the court found that the law will weigh more heavily on the poor and racial minorities in the state, which is likely to reduce minority voter strength overall. This is precisely what the Voting Rights Act was enacted to prevent. MALDEF along with other civil rights organizations intervened in the lawsuit – brought by Texas against attorney General Eric Holder – to defend the rights of minority voters.

After examining the law's discriminatory effect on minorities, the court further concluded that Texas' voter identification law was "the most stringent in the country." While the court did not rule out all voter identification laws, the decision makes clear that voter identification laws must be flexible to ensure that all voters have a way to secure identification for the purpose of voting. This is a significant victory for Latino voters in Texas that underscores the continuing need for the Voting Rights Act.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, "Democracy in Texas has a brighter future today as a result of this decision. The court saw through the obfuscation that characterizes so much of the policy debate around voter suppression measures that masquerade as efforts to target virtually non-existent voter fraud. The fact is that voter identification requirements impose real costs on democracy and specifically on voters whose views need to be valued and expressed in our democracy."

MALDEF Vice President of Litigation Nina Perales, added, "The court found that Texas not only enacted the strictest voter ID law in the nation but also that the state legislature rejected amendments that would have lessened the burdens on voters, such as allowing voters to present student ID or Medicare ID cards. Today's decision demonstrates the continuing need for the Voting Rights Act to protect voters from discriminatory and onerous laws such as this."

In the case, MALDEF represented the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and Mi Familia Vota Educational Fund as well as Latino voters who lacked voter ID. This decision follows the August 28th ruling by a different federal panel in Texas v. United States denying preclearance under the Voting Rights Act to three Texas redistricting plans. Voter ID and redistricting are the two most significant voting laws that Texas has passed since 2003, and both have now been deemed discriminatory by federal courts.

To access the court’s decision, click here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund