United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
PITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 12, 2016, the Court entered an order granting summary
judgment against the State of Texas and Carlos Cascos, who
was sued in his official capacity as the Texas Secretary of
State (collectively, “Defendants”). (August 12th
Order, Dkt. 60). The Court then invited the parties to file
motions advising the Court of their positions on the
appropriate relief in this case.
August 30, 2016, after considering the parties' filings,
this Court entered another order clarifying the relief
described in its August 12th Order. (August 30th Order, Dkt.
66). In that order, the Court found that Texas Election Code
(“the Election Code” or “TEC”)
Sections 61.032, 61.033,  and 64.0321 were inconsistent with
Section 208 of the VRA (“Section 208”).
(Id. at 2-3). The Court then enjoined “the
Defendants, their employees, agents, and successors in
office, and all persons acting in concert with them, from
enforcement of those provisions.” (Id. at 3).
appealed the Court's grant of summary judgment and its
injunction. See OCA-Greater Houston v. Texas, 867
F.3d 604, 607 (5th Cir. 2017). On August 16, 2017, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Court
of Appeals”) upheld the Court's grant of summary
judgment but found the injunction to be overbroad.
Id. at 615-16. It then vacated the injunction and
remanded the case to this Court for entry of a new remedy.
Court of Appeals found that the injunction “exceeds the
scope of the parties' presentation, which was limited to
Tex. Elec. Code. § 61.033.” Id.
Specifically, the court found that the parties never argued
that Section 61.032 violated the VRA and that Plaintiff The
Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Houston's
(“OCA”) complaint only seeks a declaration that
Section 61.033 violates the VRA. Id. at 615. The
Court of Appeals also found that the injunction
“exceeds the scope of the OCA's harm.”
Id. at 616. In light of these findings, the Court
will enter a narrower injunction tailored more closely to the
harm articulated and the relief sought by OCA in its
pleadings and motion for summary judgment.
crafting a narrower injunction, the Court is mindful of the
Court of Appeals' admonition to craft an injunction
limited to the parties' presentations and the scope of
OCA's harm. Id. at 616, 616 n.49, 616 n.50
(citing Scott v. Schedler, 826 F.3d 207, 214 (5th
Cir. 2016) (“We merely remind the district court that
its injunction may not encompass more conduct than was
requested or exceed the legal basis of the lawsuit.”)
and Meltzer v. Bd. of Pub. Instruction of Orange Cty.,
Fla., 548 F.2d 559, 568 (5th Cir. 1977), aff'd
in part and rev'd in part en banc 577 F.2d 311 (5th
Cir. 1978) (“[A] court should impose upon a defendant
no restriction greater than necessary to protect the
plaintiff from the injury of which he complains.”)).
The Court is also careful not to reexamine issues of fact or
law decided on appeal absent exceptional circumstances.
Ball v. LeBlanc, 881 F.3d 346, 351 (5th Cir. 2018)
these principles, it is clear that a revised injunction ought
to apply to Section 61.033 but not to Section 61.032. The
Court and the Court of Appeals both found that Section 61.033
is inconsistent with and preempted by Section 208. (Order,
Dkt. 60, at 20); OCA-Greater Houston, 867 F.3d at
615. As the Court of Appeals observed, the parties'
dispute has centrally concerned Section 61.033 throughout
this litigation, and Texas's enforcement of Section
61.033 is directly tied to OCA's injury. The Court's
revised injunction will therefore apply to Section 61.033.
Meanwhile, the Court does not find that any exceptional
circumstances exist to justify reexamining the Court of
Appeals' factual findings; it is therefore bound by the
appellate court's explicit finding that Section 61.032
lies outside the scope of the parties presentation and
OCA's harm. OCA-Greater Houston, 867 F.3d at
615-16. The Court's revised injunction will
not apply to Section 61.032.
remains is whether the Court will include Section 64.0321 in
its revised injunction. The Court appreciates that Section
61.033 was the focal point of the parties' dispute.
However, Section 64.0321 was consistently placed at issue by
the parties, and the Court cannot appropriately redress
OCA's injury without including Section 64.0321 in its
injunction. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will
include Section 64.0321 in its revised injunction.
The Parties' Presentation
case turns largely on the scope of Section 208. Id.
at 614 (“At bottom, the question presented by this case
is how broadly to read the term ‘to vote' in
Section 208 of the VRA.”). On appeal, the parties
addressed that legal issue from two directions: by arguing
both that the Election Code's assistor provisions were
(or were not) coextensive with Section 208 and also that the
Election Code's interpreter provisions were (or were not)
inconsistent with Section 208. See id.
(“[Texas] says its Election Code's assistor
provisions provide its voters with the full scope of
assistance guaranteed by Section 208 . . . [and that t]he
supplemental interpreter right . . . is beyond Section
parties' arguments on appeal were consistent with their
approach throughout this litigation. In its amended
complaint, for example, OCA alleges that it is harmed by
Defendants' enforcement of Section 61.033, which limits a
person's choice of interpreter. Meanwhile, OCA also
alleges that Section 64.0321 is relevant law and that
Defendants violated the VRA by failing to “allow
eligible voters to receive necessary assistance from any
person of their choice.” (Id. ¶ 34). In
its prayer for relief, OCA asks the Court to not only declare
that Section 61.033 violates the VRA, but also to enjoin
Defendants from “engaging in any act or practice that
denies the rights secured by Section 208.”
(Id. at 8).
moving to dismiss OCA's claims, Defendants argued that
Texas law comports with the VRA because the assistor
provisions-including Section 64.0321, which permits a voter
to use an assistor only in the ballot box-give voters the
“help to which they are entitled under the
[VRA].” (State Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, Dkt. 21, at
10). Defendants' theory at that stage, as it remained
through this litigation, was that the interpreter provisions
are supplemental to Section 208, and therefore that any
restrictions on interpreter eligibility do not conflict with
the VRA. (Id.). In its response, OCA argued not only
that Section 61.033 is inconsistent with the VRA, but also
that Defendants' interpretation of Section ...