Lawsuit brought by the Campaign Legal Center, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Dēmos against the Texas Secretary of State John B. Scott (R) for refusing to produce records pertaining to the state’s voter purge program. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit against Scott after he failed to produce documents related to over 11,000 registered voters who were flagged as potentially being non-U.S. citizens. The complaint comes after the plaintiffs submitted multiple public records requests to the secretary for the documents and data from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) relating to all of the identified individuals who would potentially be subjected to voter purges because they were flagged due to their citizenship status. Notably, the plaintiffs assert that the DPS records (such as driver’s license records) on which the secretary relies are often outdated and therefore do not reflect a person’s current citizenship status. This system therefore puts eligible voters who were naturalized more recently at risk of being unlawfully purged from the voter rolls. The state’s former secretary had previously agreed in a 2019 settlement to limit the use of citizenship status information in its voter list maintenance program, which the plaintiffs contend the current secretary did not abide by in its new round of list maintenance.
The plaintiffs allege that the secretary of state’s failure to produce the requested documents violates the secretary’s obligations under the Public Disclosure provision of National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). In March 2022, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary and/or permanent injunction to order the secretary to produce the requested records and also asked that the court rule on the merits of the case. Following a bench trial held in May, on Aug. 2, 2022, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion and ordered Scott to produce the documents after finding that he violated the NVRA by refusing to disclose the voter records requested by the plaintiffs.
On Aug. 4, the secretary of state appealed the district court’s final judgment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Aug. 12, the 5th Circuit granted the appellants’ motion to administratively stay the district court’s decision pending appeal, meaning the district court’s order directing the secretary of state to produce documents in compliance with the NVRA is temporarily paused. On Sept. 29, the 5th Circuit reversed the district court’s decision requiring Scott to produce records pertaining to 11,246 registered voters identified as potential noncitizens.
Case Documents (district court)
Case Documents (5th Circuit)