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Voting Rights in the Courts

Even in the wake of the election, major voting rights litigation is still pending in federal courts. Explore these cases in the interactive map below, which will be updated as litigation progresses.

 

 
Voting Rights Under Attack

Many of the cases listed here challenge restrictive voter identification laws, efforts to limit early voting, and other laws and electoral practices that make it harder for racial minorities to vote in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Building on CAC's prior work around voting rights, this map provides information on voting and redistricting cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court as well as major cases working their way through the lower federal courts that address attacks on voting rights.

READ CAC's SEPTEMBER 2016 ISSUE BRIEF: Protecting the Ballot for All

Click here for additional resources and to explore CAC's work on past cases.
 


Pending Litigation by State

[Sources include: Brennan Center for JusticeElection Law @ MoritzSCOTUSblogNAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Native American Rights Fund.]

 
Alabama

Greater Birmingham Ministries v. State of Alabama
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

In Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Alabama, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama is considering whether Alabama’s discriminatory voter ID law, HB 19, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. 

League of Women Voters v. Newby
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

[See: District of Columbia]

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Arizona

Feldman v. Arizona Secretary of State's Office
U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona

In Feldman v. Arizona Secretary of State's Office, plaintiffs are challenging state laws that make it harder for citizens to cast a ballot as well as reductions in the number of polling places in Maricopa County, Arizona. The parties recently settled the part of the case concerning polling places in Maricopa County, agreeing to changes that will make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to vote. On September 23, the district court denied plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding plaintiffs unlikely to succeed in their challenge to a new Arizona law that prohibits third-parties from collecting and handing in early voting ballots. In a pair of 2-1 rulings, decided on October 28 and November 2, a panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the challenged laws. By orders dated November 4 and 5, the Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear the cases en banc following the 2016 election. Oral argument is scheduled for June 2017.

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District of Columbia

League of Women Voters v. Newby
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

On September 9, 2016, in League of Women Voters v. Newby, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that U.S. Election Assistance Commission (“EAC”) Executive Director Brian Newby did not have the authority to issue an action allowing Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to require proof of citizenship on federal voter registration forms, a requirement that disproportionately impacts minority voters. The circuit court issued a preliminary injunction, ordering the EAC to remove the proof of citizenship requirement applicable in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas from the federal form ahead of the November election. On February 24, 2017, the U.S. District Court remanded the case back to the Election Assistance Commission.

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Georgia

League of Women Voters v. Newby
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

[See: District of Columbia]

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Kansas

Fish v. Kobach
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

On September 30, in Fish v. Kobach, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a preliminary injunction forbidding Kansas from enforcing a state law requiring residents to produce documentary proof of citizenship when attempting to register to vote while applying for or renewing a driver’s license. The court found that, on the facts of the case, the National Voter Registration Act preempted Kansas law.

League of Women Voters v. Newby
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

[See: District of Columbia]

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North Carolina

McCrory v. Harris
U.S. Supreme Court

In McCrory v. Harris, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. McCrory
U.S. Supreme Court

In North Carolina State Conference v. McCrory, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that a North Carolina law known as HB 589 violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On August 31, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-4, denied North Carolina’s request for emergency relief pending the disposition of North Carolina’s appeal to the Supreme Court, leaving the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in place. On January 30, 2017, North Carolina filed a petition for writ of certiorari to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision. On February 21, North Carolina’s newly elected Governor and Attorney General moved to dismiss the petition. That motion has been opposed by the lawyers who filed the petition for certiorari, who have also moved to add the North Carolina Legislature as petitioner.

CAC FILED AS AMICUS: Read CAC's brief in NAACP v. McCrory

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North Dakota

Brakebill v. Jaeger
U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota

In Brakebill v. Jaeger, the United States District Court of North Dakota has issued a preliminary injunction blocking North Dakota’s restrictive voter ID laws, HB 1332 and HB 1333, which disproportionately impact Native Americans, finding it likely that North Dakota’s restrictive law violates the Fourteenth Amendment. The parties in the case are currently working to comply with the district court’s injunction.

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Ohio

NEOCH v. Husted
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

On September 13, in Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v. Husted, a panel of the Sixth Circuit upheld Ohio laws that make it harder for citizens to cast an absentee or provisional ballot, while striking down others. By a 2-1 vote, the court upheld Ohio laws that gave voters less time to correct errors in absentee and provisional ballots and limited the ways in which poll-workers can assist voters, requirements that the district court found would disproportionately burden minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. On October 7, the Sixth Circuit refused to rehear the case en banc.

Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

In Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled 2-1 to uphold Ohio’s elimination of its “Golden Week,” a five-day period during which voters are able to register and vote on the same day at the beginning of early in-person voting. On September 13, the Supreme Court refused to stay the Sixth Circuit’s ruling pending the disposition of plaintiffs’ appeal to the Supreme Court.

CAC FILED AS AMICUSRead CAC's brief in Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted

Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute and NEOCH v. Husted
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

On September 23, in Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute and NEOCH v. Husted, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violated the National Voter Registration Act by purging the registration of eligible voters simply because they hadn’t voted in recent elections. On Feb. 3, 2017, Husted filed a petition for writ of certiorari to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision.

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Texas

Veasey v. Abbott
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

In Veasey v. Abbott, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, by a 9-6 vote, held that the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation, Texas’s SB 14, violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The case has returned to the district court to determine whether the law was enacted with a discriminatory intent. Texas has filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit's ruling. On January 23, 2017, the Supreme Court refused to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision. The district court is currently considering the plaintiffs’ argument that SB 14 was enacted with discriminatory intent. The United States, which previously had joined in this claim, has moved to voluntarily dismiss its claim against Texas.

CAC FILED AS AMICUSRead CAC's brief in Veasey v. Abbott

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Virginia

Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections
U.S. Supreme Court

In Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether Virginia’s redistricting plan racially gerrymandered state congressional districts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On March 1, 2017, by a 8-0 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the district court had employed an incorrect legal standard in determining that race did not predominate in 11 of the 12 districts, remanding the case to the district court for further review. The Justices upheld the remaining district under strict scrutiny, concluding that it was narrowly tailored to the goal of complying with the Voting Rights Act. Justice Thomas dissented from that holding.  

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Wisconsin

Frank v. Walker
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

In Frank v. Walker, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is considering cross-appeals from an order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin holding that voters who do not have the photo ID required by Wisconsin’s voter ID law must be allowed to vote in the election by signing a “reasonable impediment” affidavit. The Seventh Circuit previously granted a stay of the order. On February 24, 2017, the Seventh Circuit heard oral argument in the case.

One Wisconsin Institute, Inc. v. Nichol
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

In One Wisconsin Institute, Inc. v. Nichol, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is considering cross-appeals from the order of the district court, which struck down the state’s voter identification law in part, and struck down a host of new restrictive state laws, including cutbacks on early voting, while upholding others. The Seventh Circuit previously denied a stay, so the district court’s injunction remains in effect for the November 2016 election. On September 12, the district court judge asked the state to spell out the steps it has taken to inform citizens that they can exercise their right to vote, even if they lack ID, by invoking the state’s ID petition process. On September 30, the district court ordered the state to investigate allegations that Wisconsin state DMV offices are flouting the district court’s injunction and refusing to provide voting credentials to those seeking to obtain ID. On February 24, 2017, the Seventh Circuit heard oral argument in the case.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Past CAC Voting Rights Cases

Selected CAC Voting Rights Research and Commentary