Amicus Brief: Longoria v. Paxton – Vote by Mail (TX)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

On March 3, 2022, in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise filed an amicus brief in support of a motion for preliminary injunction brought by Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria, one of the plaintiffs in Longoria v. Paxton. The States United Democracy Center and Cooley LLP served as pro-bono outside counsel on the brief. 

Longoria is challenging an SB 1 provision, Section 276.016(a)(1) of the Texas Election Code, which makes it a crime for her and other election officials to “solicit” voters to apply to vote by mail. In the amicus brief, Amicus Curiae Lisa Wise explained the outreach and communication activities that she has historically engaged in to help ensure that every eligible Texas voter can vote, including by mail if a voter qualifies to do so. She asserted that the SB 1 provision may subject her to criminal penalties for continuing to engage in these routine activities and violates the First Amendment as a content-based restriction on free speech. Wise also described the significant number of rejections of mail-in ballot and mail-ballot applications to date because of SB 1. 

On December 28, 2021, Longoria filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the SB 1 provision. Previously, on February 11, 2022, Lisa Wise filed an amicus brief in support of the motion for a preliminary injunction in the district court. After a hearing on February 11, Judge Xavier Rodriguez granted the preliminary injunction, banning the enforcement of the SB1 provision until final judgement after the March 1 Texas primaries. Attorney General Paxton appealed this decision, and sought a stay of the district court’s order pending the appeal, to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

At the time of the filing of the amicus brief, the case was under review in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

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