Law School Case Brief
Veasey v. Abbott - 830 F.3d 216 (5th Cir. 2016)
The framework for evaluating a results claim under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act has two elements: (1) The challenged standard, practice, or procedure must impose a discriminatory burden on members of a protected class, meaning that members of the protected class have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice, and (2) That burden must in part be caused by or linked to social and historical conditions that have or currently produce discrimination against members of the protected class. The first part of this two-part framework inquires about the nature of the burden imposed and whether it creates a disparate effect in that members of the protected class have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice—this encompasses § 2's definition of what kinds of burdens deny or abridge the right to vote.
In 2011, Texas passed the Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), which required individuals to present one of several forms of photo identification in order to vote. Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality and legality of the law. The district court held that SB 14 was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose, has a racially discriminatory effect, is a poll tax, and unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote. The State appealed.
Did Texas SB 14 burden the right to vote, and has racially discriminatory purpose?
The Court held that Senate Bill 14 violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effects because it imposed significant and disparate burdens on the right to vote, given the stark racial disparity between those with required ID and those without, and it interacted with social and historical conditions to cause inequality in electoral opportunities of African Americans and Hispanic voters, given, among other things, that the voter ID provisions failed to correspond in a meaningful way to the claimed interests.
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