Supreme Court

Suzanne Bryant, left, and Sarah Goodfriend celebrate after being granted a marriage license Thursday morning at Highland Lounge.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the state Supreme Court on Friday to declare a single marriage license issued to one same-sex couple invalid. 

Paxton asked the Supreme Court to act after Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant married Thursday, becoming the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Texas. Hours after the ceremony, the Texas Supreme Court, at Paxton’s request, issued a stay that prevented future same-sex couples in Texas from marrying.

“The rogue actions of Travis County judges do not withstand the scrutiny of law,” Paxton said in a statement Friday. “The same-sex marriage license issued [Thursday] is not valid because it conflicts with the Texas Constitution and state law — the license is therefore void ab initio.”

Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Mongolia) also worked to prevent same-sex marriage licenses from being issued Friday. The two lawmakers filed legislation Friday in the House and Senate that would make the secretary of state the only official who would be allowed to issue marriage licenses. Currently, couples can obtain marriage licenses from individual county clerks’ offices.

Under the proposed legislation, the secretary of state would maintain the right to authorize certain county clerks to continue the issuance of marriage licenses under the secretary’s supervision.

Perry said in a statement Friday that his bill will work to protect marriage as defined in the Texas Constitution: “the union of one man and one woman.”

“Yesterday, Travis County officials acted in direct conflict with the Texas Constitution,” Perry said in a statement. “SB 673 ensures rule of law is maintained and the Texas Constitution is protected.”

Chuck Herring, the couple’s attorney, said state officials’ attempts to alter government procedures for obtaining marriage licenses will not ultimately prevent same-sex marriages.

“It’s obviously punitive and retaliatory and it makes no sense to change the system of government we have in Texas, including local control and local authority,” Herring said. “We all know the U.S. Supreme Court is the court that is going to decide any remaining issues concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriage prohibition.”

Paxton’s filing is without merit and will not effectively void the couple’s marriage, according to Herring.

“We think it is a backdoor attempt to attack the validity of a marriage that has already occurred,” Herring said. “The case is over. The marriage is over and done. Our clients are married and very happy.”

Suzanne Bryant (left) and Sarah Goodfriend hold up their marriage license after a press conference on Thursday afternoon. They became the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas on Thursday morning.
Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (5:14 p.m.): According to Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, the marriage of Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend is valid despite the Texas Supreme Court issuing a stay order for the trial court ruling.

 

"The Texas Supreme Court order on the Motion for Temporary Relief has stayed further proceedings in the trial court, and is not directed at the County Clerk," DeBeauvoir said. "I have every reason to believe that the actions I took this morning were legally correct based on the trial court's order and that the license my office issued was then and now valid. There is no further action for me to take at this time."

 

Updated (4:10 p.m.): The Texas Supreme Court granted Paxton’s request for a stay in the trial court rulings regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

“The Texas Supreme Court has granted a stay of two trial court rulings that Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages violates constitutional protections to equal protection and due process of law,” Osler McCarthy, staff attorney and public information contact for Texas Supreme Court, said in a statement. “Motions to stay orders by two Travis County judges, one in a probate case and the other a temporary-restraining order granting a same-sex couple a marriage license, were sought by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.”

Since Goodfriend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May, the Travis County Court decided her condition warranted the licensing. Of the two daughters, Goodfriend adopted one, and Bryant adopted the other. If Goodfriend were to die without being legally married to Bryant, Bryant's adopted daughter would not receive certain provisions. For this reason, the court decided to bypass the 72-hour stay on the Tuesday decision and issue the license immediately.

Bryant and Goodfriend attended a press conference to discuss their marriage Thursday.

“This is bittersweet for us because there are many other Texans who would like to be able to have their loving, committed relationship recognized,” Goodfriend said.

When Bryant and Goodfriend asked whether they thought the attorney general would step in and nullify their marriage, Bryant said they are not concerned.

“We can’t control what the AG office wants to do,” Bryant said. “If they want to come in and try and undo this, they will. But we have a valid marriage license, and I don’t think they can.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas congratulated Bryant and Goodfriend following the announcement that the couple were the first same-sex couple to marry legally in Texas.

“Now, it’s time for other loving couples across our state to have the same chance to celebrate,” Anna Núñez, communications coordinator for ACLU of Texas, said in an email. “We call upon Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton to stop wasting taxpayer money to defend Texas’ unconstitutional marriage ban. Let the people marry!”

Updated (2:30 p.m.): Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has requested that the state's Supreme Court block a ruling that allowed an Austin same-sex couple to marry.

Paxton said in a statement Thursday the ruling was not in line with the Texas Constitution.

"The law of Texas has not changed and will not change due to the whims of any individual judge or county clerk operating on their own capacity anywhere in Texas," Paxton said. "Activist judges don’t change Texas law, and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state and will ensure that any licenses issued contrary to law are invalid."

Updated (10:12 a.m.): Two days after Travis County Judge Guy Herman ruled Tuesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, two Austin women, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, were legally married outside the Travis County Clerk's Office early Thursday morning. The two women are the first same-sex couple to get married in the state of Texas. 

State district judge David Wahlberg ordered Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to grant the marriage license after a county judge ruled that the state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional earlier this week.

Same-sex marriage licenses are still not widely available in Travis County. The clerk's office will only grant additional marriage licenses to same-sex couples if those licenses are court-ordered, office representatives said.

Rabbi Kerry Baker, an Austin-based rabbi who has known Goodfriend and Bryant for more than two decades, performed the marriage ceremony. Baker said he was aware of the historic nature of the marriage.

“Of course it’s an historic moment, and that’s always remarkable when you can be involved in history as it’s being made, but frankly, my relationship with Sarah and Suzanne is not about two people who are making history,” Baker said. “They’re my friends. They’re my fellow congregants. That’s what comes first, as a rabbi – not the history, but the impact on people’s lives.”

Baker, who provides spiritual counseling through his website “Everybody Needs a Rabbi,” said the couple contacted him Wednesday night about the possibility of getting married.

“For at least eight or so years, Sarah and Suzanne have actively been trying to get permission from the state to have an actual marriage ceremony and receive a license,” Baker said. “I got a call from them last night saying that today might be the day, so I was ready.”

Paxton said his office asked the state Supreme Court to stay Herman's ruling and ultimately overturn it.

“Texas law is clear on the definition of marriage, and I will fight to protect this sacred institution and uphold the will of Texans," Paxton said in a statement Wednesday. "The probate judge’s misguided ruling does not change Texas law or allow the issuance of a marriage license to anyone other than one man and one woman.”

Baker, who also served as Texas Hillel director from 1987 to 1997, said he wasn’t concerned about Paxton’s definition of marriage as a sacred institution.

“The attorney general, with all due respect, doesn’t know much about religion,” Baker said. “I don’t pay much attention to him on that score. And frankly, from an American point of view, I support the equal protection clause of the constitution."

Goodfriend and Bryant's two daughters, Ting, 13, and Dawn, 18, joined them at the ceremony. 

Original story: Travis County Judge Guy Herman ruled Tuesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but the county did not immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Herman issued his ruling as part of a case in which Austin resident Sonemaly Phrasavath pushed the Travis County Probate Court to recognize her eight-year partnership with Stella Powell as a common-law marriage. Powell died last summer before her will was validated, leading to a legal dispute between Phrasavath and two of Powell’s siblings.

Although Travis County Court clerk Dana DeBeauvoir commended Herman for his decision, she has no immediate plans to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to a statement the County Clerk’s office released Wednesday.

“In his order, Judge Herman did not instruct the County Clerk to begin to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples,” the statement said. “The Travis County Attorney’s office is examining the order as well as the status of the current federal litigation related to marriage equality at the Fifth Circuit and in the Supreme Court.”

The ruling came Wednesday, after an hour-long hearing in the Travis County Courthouse in which Phrasavath argued against the prohibition on same-sex marriage.

Brian Thompson, Phrasavath’s attorney, said he interpreted the ruling to mean same-sex marriage is now legal in Travis County.

“I don’t see why the county clerk doesn’t rely on [the ruling] to start issuing marriage licenses,” Thompson said. “Every single day that goes by that we don’t have marriage equality in the state of Texas is an opportunity lost.”

Herman’s ruling allows DeBeauvoir to immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to Thompson. 

LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas issued a statement Wednesday urging DeBeauvoir to begin issuing licenses immediately.

“Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir previously stated she would be happy to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the law allows for it,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “The law in Travis County now allows for the freedom to marry. Equality Texas calls upon the county clerk to stand with us — on the right side of history.”

Civil rights lawyers, from left to right, Rebecca Robertson, Christine Henry Andresen, Ian Pittman and Elizabeth Brenner held a panel discussion at the School of Law on Friday.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

During a panel discussion at the School of Law on Friday, civil rights lawyers warned of backlash if Texas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is lifted.   

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Austin LGBT Bar Association and family law firms said a backlash from conservative political forces could adversely affect Texas’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, even if the Supreme Court rules that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.

Lawyers discussed the ways that the state legislature could still use loopholes in anti-discrimination laws and new laws to hurt the LGBT community in areas such as housing, employment and adoption.

“If you were to poll people and ask if they thought LGBT Texans have protection against employment discrimination, you would find most people think they already exist because they are so fundamental to being a full participant in our society,” said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas. “In reality, we do not have any protections for LGBT Texans in our state.”

Ian Pittman, a partner at the family-law and estate-planning law firm Jorgeson Pittman LLP, said state government could also use the “power of the purse” to control state employees to prevent them from following Supreme Court precedents.

Robertson said an example of this practice is Rep. Cecil Bell’s (R-Magnolia) bill, HB 623, which entered the Texas Legislature on Jan. 8. The bill says any employee of the state who acts against Texas’ ban will be deprived of salary and any other employment benefits.

Panelists and members of the audience said there were several opportunities for lawyers and law students to help expedite the LGBT movement in Texas.

“In our current session, there are three LGBT lobbying days scheduled, and I cannot overemphasize the importance to have attorneys and law students appear before the legislature and talk about these issues,” said Gary Schumann, founding partner of Savrick, Schumann, Johnson, McGarr, Kaminski & Shirley LLP.

Robertson said she thinks the backlash will create additional movement towards equality.

“When we hear about people who returned happy from their honeymoon, came to work the next morning, shared their story with their boss and got fired without recourse, it may create some momentum for an employment nondiscrimination act on the state level and federal level that would finally extend those protections,” Robertson said.

Rudy Corona, computer science junior and vice president of the Secular Student Alliance, said the next step for the LGBT community is transgender rights. He said members of the transgender community face a litany of problems that might be beyond the attention of the public.

“[Even] public bathrooms can be an uncomfortable place for transgender people because they might not be welcome to the bathroom of their choice based on their gender,” Corona said.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Abigail Fisher’s lawyers filed a petition Tuesday for her case, Fisher v. University of Texas, to be heard by the Supreme Court a second time.

Fisher, a rejected undergraduate UT applicant, filed a lawsuit in 2008 after claiming the University discriminated against her based on her race. Fisher said the admissions policy was in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. After losing at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009, the case reached the Supreme Court in 2012. 

The Supreme Court ultimately vacated and remanded the case in a 7–1 decision, ordering the 5th Circuit to examine UT’s race-conscious admissions policy more carefully to determine whether the University’s policies were necessary to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students. A three-judge panel sided with the University last year, and the full, 15-person court declined to rehear the case in November.

The petition states the 5th Circuit “again failed to apply traditional strict scrutiny” to the admissions process.

The petition, asking the Supreme Court to grant Fisher a writ of certiorari, which means the Supreme Court would entertain the case, states, “At every turn, the majority was ‘persuaded’ by UT’s circular legal arguments, post hoc rationalizations for its decision to reintroduce racial preferences, and unsupported factual assertions.” 

Fisher’s case attempts to counter affirmative action, a policy or action that favors typically discriminated against groups of people. 

The Supreme Court must accept a writ of certiorari from the lower court before hearing a case. 

If at least four justices vote to grant Fisher a writ of certiorari, they will hear her case in the spring or near the beginning of the next court term. 

Fisher was not in the top 10 percent of her high school graduating class and was not granted automatic admission. Her application was then placed under holistic review, alongside approximately 16,000 other applicants who were not in the top 10 percent. In holistic review, applicants are chosen based on academic and personal achievements as well as a long list of individual characteristics, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

The University released a statement in defense of the courts’ past decisions, saying the University will file a brief in opposition to the petition.

“The University of Texas uses race as one factor in a holistic admissions policy that allows us to assemble a student body that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity,” the statement said. “Our policy is narrowly-tailored, constitutional and has rightly been upheld by the courts multiple times. The university will file a brief in opposition to the latest petition.”

Fisher’s lawyers argue that an admissions process using an interest in “qualitative diversity” relied too heavily on requirements based on stereotypes about “less-privileged applicants.”

According to the petition, “If not reviewed, the Fifth Circuit’s decision will signal to universities and courts throughout the nation that strict scrutiny is a pro forma exercise and that Fisher I is a green light for racial preferences in admissions decisions.”

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's note: This is part of a Point/Counterpoint series regarding Fisher v. University of Texas. To read the opposing viewpoint, click here

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about Fisher v. Texas! Although court cases are by no means a quick or breezy process, it seems that Abigail Fisher’s battle has been pinged around on quite a tumultuous journey through the appellate court pinball machine. After the case made its way to the Supreme Court last year, justices vacated a previous ruling and remanded it to lower courts. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case for a second time, the court sided with the University once again and Fisher’s party was still not satisfied. Petitioners have since sent two requests for the court to hear their case en banc (with a full panel of 15 judges) and been denied both times. So, guys, call me crazy, or maybe just a little impatient — but I think the Fifth Circuit has made its point loud and clear. Team Abigail, it’s time to find bigger Fish to fry.

It’s been eight years since the denied college freshman first called foul play, citing that the University’s use of race as a “plus-one” factor in the admissions process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. And since the first go-around in the appellate court failed to apply the proper test of strict scrutiny, it made its way to the high court, where justices deemed it be heard by the Fifth Circuit once again with the added scrutiny.

Although the appellate court sided with the University for a second time in July, Abigail’s disgruntled team of petitioners say the battle is far from over. “This case will be appealed back to the Supreme Court,” Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, which has funded Fisher’s case, said in a statement after the appellate court declined, again, to hear her case en banc.

But why? Speculation that the high court would strike down affirmative action altogether has since been quieted. Precedent-setting history was not made during Fisher’s hearing, and even a different opinion from the appellate court would lack the widespread berth that many had hoped for. And the aforementioned chance that the Supreme Court would choose to hear the case again is highly, highly unlikely.

For the less constitutionally-conscious folks out there, race-conscious admissions plans must satisfy a compelling state interest, narrowly tailored to do this in the least restrictive way possible. The question is not whether the university has a compelling interest in diversity — the Supreme Court made that clear last year when it chose not to set new precedent — but whether the University of Texas at Austin itself has an explicit and narrowly tailored plan.

“To deny UT Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience in contradiction of the plain teachings of Bakke and Grutter,” wrote Judge Patrick Higginbotham, writing for the Fifth Circuit majority. By seeking to establish a critical mass of students, the University is not discriminating against — or advocating for — certain students. It is merely ensuring a holistically diverse and widespread student body, and it is not doing so without regard to an extremely stringent standard.

Despite claims to the contrary, ensuring a diverse environment still has a place in today’s debate. Though Texas’ top 10 percent rule arguably provides a widespread population of students throughout the state, justices are wary that this law alone could satisfy a diverse critical mass. When used alone, this race-neutral alternative could lead to underperformance of students — or highly competitive students moving to lower-performing districts, taking easier classes in order to meet this guaranteed admissions requirement.

These repeated requests for an en banc hearing only belabor an answer the appellate system has made explicitly clear — Fisher’s day in court is done.

Deppisch is a government senior from League City. Follow Deppisch on Twitter @b_deppy.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Abigail Fisher’s request Wednesday for a full panel of judges to hear her affirmative action case against the University.

Of the court’s 15 judges, five voted in favor of rehearing the case while 10 voted against it, according to the official decision released by the 5th Circuit.  

Fisher, a rejected UT applicant, petitioned for an en banc hearing in July following a 2-1 decision from a three-judge 5th Circuit Court panel, which ruled in favor of the University’s race-conscious admissions process. This is the second time the court has denied Fisher’s petition for an
en banc.

“Abby Fisher and her family are disappointed with the court’s denial for a rehearing, but remember that they have been in this posture before,”  said Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, in a statement. The Project on Fair Representation has provided funding for Fisher’s case.

Fisher, a Sugar Land resident, sued the University in 2008 when she was denied acceptance to the University because her grades were not high enough to guarantee her admission under the top-10 percent rule. Her defense argued UT’s admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment since minority students were accepted with lower grades than hers. 

In 2009, a district court upheld the University’s admission policy as constitutional, a decision that was affirmed by a three-judge 5th Circuit Court panel
in 2011. 

The case eventually reached the Supreme Court in 2012, but it was sent back to the 5th Circuit Court in 2013. The Supreme Court decided the case did not meet strict scrutiny, meaning the lower courts still needed to determine the actual constitutionality of the University’s race-conscious policy.

Even after the court’s ruling Wednesday, Blum said Fisher’s case would be appealed back to the Supreme Court.

“The justices had to correct the 5th Circuit’s errors the first time Abby Fisher took her case to the high court, and we look forward to making our arguments to them once again,” Blum said.

President William Powers Jr. said the University is pleased with the appeals court’s ruling.

“The University of Texas at Austin is committed to maintaining a student body that provides the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students,” Powers said in a statement. “The exchange of ideas and cultural richness that occurs when students from diverse backgrounds come together on our campus prepares all our students for life in a global society.”

In this podcast, Anthony Green and Madlin Mekelburg discuss a $58 million dollar grant given to the Jackson School of Geosciences, the Supreme Court decision to uphold Texas' controversial voter ID law for the upcoming elections, Snapchat's "Our Campus Story" feature and a new option at The Dobie Center to rent rooms.

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Two days before early voting, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold Texas’ controversial voter identification law for the 2014 elections.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law Saturday, six to three, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voting against.

On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reinstate the voter ID law, known as Senate Bill 14. The law, which requires voters to bring a valid photo ID to the polls, will continue to be enforced with the Supreme Court’s decision. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled the law was unconstitutional less than two weeks ago, equating it with a “poll tax,” and saying it oppressed minority voters. 

Ginsburg wrote a six-page dissent on her reasons for overturning the previous decision to enforce the voter ID law, saying the Court of Appeals’ decision was made for the wrong reasons.

“Refusing to evaluate the defendants’ likelihood of success on the merits and, instead relying exclusively on the potential disruption of Texas’ electoral processes, the Fifth Circuit showed little respect for this Court’s established stay standards,” Ginsburg wrote.

Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that Texas’ voter ID law should remain in effect for the upcoming election,” Bean said. “The state will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court’s misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections.”

While the law will be in effect for this year’s elections, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to review its constitutionality.

The Supreme Court temporarily put two provisions of House Bill 2 on hold Tuesday, allowing some abortion clinics in Texas to reopen.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled earlier in October to enforce the two provisions — one requiring ambulatory services and the other requiring hospital-grade surgery facilities in all abortion clinics in Texas.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to block the provisions, which would have shut down all but eight of Texas’ abortion clinics. The court made the decision in response to an emergency application filed by attorneys representing Texas women’s health care providers. The application asked for the court to reinstate U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s injunction to block the ambulatory services provision of HB2.

The court did not release an expanded opinion of their decision but specified that Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have rejected the emergency application completely. 

In its decision, the court also said the admitting-privileges provision, which requires abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, would be null at the McAllen and El Paso clinics.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who filibustered an earlier version of the law in June 2013, expressed her support for the Supreme Court’s decision to block the previous ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The court recognizes that these deeply personal decisions should be made by a woman with the guidance of her family and her doctor,” Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

Thirteen abortion clinics in the state will be able to reopen Wednesday, according to Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has represented the abortion clinics as the provisions have been deliberated by the courts.

The 5th Circuit Court will continue to review the law until it makes a final decision on its constitutionality. Lauren Bean, deputy communications director for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said the office “will continue to defend the law, just as we defend all state laws when they are challenged in court.”

Alexander Parker, College Republicans communications director, said the decision did not mark the end of reproductive legislation decisions.

“It’s certainly been back and forth,” Parker said. “However, the attorney general has remained committed to defending HB2 as he would any other law. We’ll just have to wait to see what the final decision is.”

University Democrats President Max Patterson praised the decision as it will allow women in the state easier access to clinics.

“It means that women in Texas, including those on campus, will not see unconstitutional restrictions to their right to make their own, very personal health care decisions concerning their own bodies,” Patterson said.

Less than a week before the start of early voting, a federal appeals court reinstated Texas’ controversial state voter ID law Tuesday, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district judge last week. 

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined Tuesday it is too late to change the law for the upcoming November election, citing three other Supreme Court decisions to stall Court of Appeals decisions based on the short time frame before elections. Early voting begins Monday, and Election Day is Nov. 4.

“While the Supreme Court has not explained its reasons for issuing these stays, the common thread is clearly that the decision of the Court of Appeals would change the rules of the election too soon before the election date,” the ruling said. “The stayed decisions have both upheld and struck down state statutes and affirmed and reversed district court decisions, so the timing of the decisions rather than their merits seems to be the key.”

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos condemned the law, known as Senate Bill 14, as a method to suppress minority voting. The law requires voters to bring photo identification — such as a driver’s license — in order to vote. She also equated the law to a “poll tax,” citing the extra money that could potentially quash lower-income citizens from voting. 

In their decision, the appeals court said training polling workers under new requirements in less than a month would be too complicated. 

“Here, the district court’s decision on October 11, 2014 presents similar logistical problems because it will ‘be extremely difficult, if not impossible,’ for the State to adequately train its 25,000 polling workers at 8,000 polling places about the injunction’s new requirements in time for the start of early voting on October 20 or even election day on November 4,” the ruling said.

In response to the ruling, Greg Abbott, attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate, called the decision a “victory” in a tweet. 

Abbott’s gubernatorial opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, condemned Abbott’s position in a statement, calling the voter ID law a “poll tax,” referencing Gonzales’s previous decision. 

“It is deeply disturbing that Greg Abbott would call a law the court said is intentionally discriminatory against African-Americans and Hispanics a ‘victory,’” Davis said. “As the court further said, it’s nothing more than a ‘poll tax,’ which means democracy and all Texans lose.” 

After the ruling, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced it will continue to offer Election Identification Certificates, which will serve as valid identification at the polls. Applicants for EICs must be Texas residents and have proof of U.S. citizenship, as well as be eligible to vote in the upcoming election. 

Max Patterson, director of Student Government’s Hook the Vote agency, said his organization would work to inform students of the law. 

“We will continue to educate students on the restrictions put in place by the legislature for voter ID — either by speaking to classrooms, organizations or by supporting the voter education initiatives of our partner organizations,” Patterson said.