Alabama’s history of enacting laws designed to suppress people of color is well-documented. See Lynch v. Alabama, No. 08-S-450-NE, 2011 WL 13186739, at *12–18 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 7, 2011) (detailing Alabama’s extensive history of legislation designed to disenfranchise and limit the power and influence of its Black citizens), aff’d in part, vacated in part, remanded sub nom., I.L., 739 F.3d 1273. The majority opinion essentially argues that we should not penalize Alabama’s legislators for Alabama’s past; rather, we should start with a clean slate when reviewing the Photo ID Law. But this is not what the law commands us to do. Alabama’s history of voter suppression is relevant here and provides a wealth of direct and circumstantial evidence that should be considered at trial.14
For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.
Judge Branch wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Carnes:
At the end of 2015, advocacy groups and individual Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Alabama’s Secretary of State, John Merrill, challenging Alabama’s 2011 Photo Voter Identification Law (hereinafter, the “voter ID law”), passed by the Alabama legislature as House Bill 19 and codified at Ala. Code § 17-9-30. The voter ID law took effect in June 2014 and requires all Alabama voters to present a photo ID when casting in-person or absentee votes. Plaintiffs allege the law has a racially discriminatory purpose and effect that violates the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (the “VRA”). Specifically, Plaintiffs claim the law violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution; Section 2 of the VRA, 52 U.S.C. § 10301; and Section 201 of the VRA, 52 U.S.C. § 10501. Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent the enforcement of Alabama’s voter ID Law. Secretary Merrill denies that the law is discriminatory, arguing that Alabama accepts so many types of acceptable IDs that most Alabamians already possess photo ID and voters who do not have one can obtain one easily.
Secretary Merrill filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts, while Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on one claim and one issue.1 The district court granted Secretary Merrill’s motion and Plaintiffs-Appellants timely appealed.
Because Plaintiffs have failed to identify any genuine disputes of material facts and because no reasonable factfinder could find, based on the evidence presented, that Alabama’s voter ID law is discriminatory, we affirm the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of State for the State of Alabama.