AUSTIN – The
New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sided
with Attorney General Paxton and Secretary of State John Scott after
several groups attempted to sue Secretary Scott for information about
efforts to ensure that non-U.S. citizens are not voting in Texas
of State Scott, following his legal duty, compares voter registration
information with citizenship information to help guarantee that only
U.S. citizens are eligible to vote. If suspicion arises that an
individual has illegally registered to vote, local officials initiate a multi-step process before investigating and, if necessary, canceling his or her unlawful voter registration. If, during this process, the Secretary of State receives information evidencing criminal conduct related to elections, that information is referred to Attorney General Paxton’s office.
to impede this process, several organizations sued Secretary of State
Scott after his office refused a request from these groups to access
substantial amounts of nonpublic voter information. In order to
protect the integrity of this ongoing investigation process, the
security of Texas elections, and the privacy of lawful Texas voters,
Attorney General Paxton defended Secretary Scott’s decision.
A lower court ruled that the plaintiffs should receive the private voter data under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, but the
Fifth Circuit overruled that decision and sided with Secretary Scott.
Agreeing with Attorney General Paxton’s lead argument on appeal, the
Fifth Circuit noted that these organizations have no standing to request
this private information, highlighting that “not a single Plaintiff is a
Because of this lack of standing, the court of appeals ordered the lower court to dismiss the case:
“Reversing the district court, we hold that the organizations
constituting the Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claim under the
National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”). Consequently, we
Reverse and Remand with instructions to Dismiss.”
To read the court’s full explanation for the decision, click here.