Brief: Texas Voter Registration Drive Restrictions Violate First Amendment, Federal Law

Brennan Center, League of Women Voters, and Rock the Vote File Amicus Brief in Texas Case

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–November 27, 2012. Recent changes to Texas law make it extremely difficult for voter registration groups to sign up new voters, violating the First Amendment and the National Voter Registration Act, argues the Brennan Center for Justice in an amicus brief with the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote.

Texas, which already had one of the harshest set of restrictions in the nation, passed a law in 2011 making it even more difficult for civic groups to conduct these drives in the state. A federal judge rejected similar efforts by Florida earlier this year.

The amicus brief urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to block the Texas law and affirm a lower court decision that enjoined the harsh restrictions. Read more legal background on the case here.

“This law represents yet another attempt by Texas politicians to prevent some Americans from having a say in the political process and we urge the court to reject it,” said Diana Kasdan, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Our democracy grows in strength with every voter. Rather than making it harder to vote, Americans should come together to make sure every eligible citizen can participate.”

“Voter registration drives by independent groups like the League of Women Voters are an essential part of American democracy,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The Constitution protects this First Amendment activity, so we are deeply concerned that politicians in any state would try to limit basic democratic rights. Across the country, the League of Women Voters will continue to challenge these unnecessary restrictions on the right to vote.”

“Instead of facilitating registration for young and first-time voters, this law would make it even more difficult for them to participate and make their voices heard,” said Rock the Vote President Heather Smith. “This initiative is nothing more than a cynical attempt by politicians to protect their own interests at the expense of Texas voters and our democracy.”

Attorneys with the Brennan Center and pro bono partners Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represent amici.