On August 16, the Fifth Circuit issued an 18-page opinion in Organization for Chinese Americans v State of Texas, 16-51126. The decision agrees with the U.S. District Court that a Texas law, requiring interpreters at the polls to be registered voters of that county, violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
The opinion is by Judge Patrick Higginbotham (a Reagan appointee), and is also signed by James Graves and Stephen Higginson, Obama appointees. The Fifth Circuit did say that the U.S. District Court’s injunction was broader than it needed to be, and sent it back to have it re-written. The U.S. District Court had believed that Texas won’t permit interpreters if a polling place official knows the particular foreign language and can interpret instead, but the Fifth Circuit said that is not a correct interpretation of Texas law, and furthermore that issue was not part of this lawsuit.
The individual voter who brought the case in the beginning, and who wanted her 16-year-old grandson to interpret for her, had died before the case was decided in U.S. District Court. Texas argued that therefore the case is moot, but the U.S. District Court and the Fifth Circuit agreed that the co-plaintiff Organization for Chinese Americans also has standing.