PILF in SCOTUSblog: Coming Attractions in the Census Case

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 28, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) was invited to participate in a SCOTUSblog symposium on the Census case opinion released Thursday. Below are some excerpts from the submission:

In short, the court concluded that the secretary could reinstate the citizenship question and had good reason to reinstate the citizenship question, but the explanation he provided for why he did so was lacking, and that, in itself, is a fatal flaw worthy of sending the issue back to the Department of Commerce. Game over? Maybe not.

Not only is there disagreement among the justices regarding the court’s analysis, there is disagreement among commentators about the effect of the decision. There is a genuine question about whether the Commerce Department can satisfy the court’s concerns in time for the 2020 census and, if so, how.

Adding to the complication is that the Supreme Court decision only involved the challenges that were brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. There are separate challenges to the reinstatement of the citizenship question pending in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 9th and 4th Circuits, and in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Despite the New York court’s decision blocking the reinstatement of the question in mid-January and the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear the case this term, the other lower courts proceeded with their own fact-finding and ruled against the government.

Read the entire article on SCOTUSblog here.

Read the Foundation’s prior case filings on the matter here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF Statement on Census Citizenship Question Decision

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 27, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the inclusion of a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Census.

“Chief Justice Roberts unfortunately was the deciding vote,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “He agreed with the arguments of the institutional Left that how the Census question was added was more important than the common sense of asking the question in the first place. This is an unfortunate victory for the Swamp that opposed collecting facts about how many aliens are in the United States.”

“It is a sign of our time that the inclusion of a question about citizenship on the census has become a subject of bitter public controversy and has led to today’s regrettable decision. While the decision to place such a question on the 2020 census questionnaire is attacked as racist, there is a broad international consensus that inquiring about citizenship on a census is not just appropriate but advisable.” Justice Alito

Read the Foundation’s prior case filings on the matter here. The Foundation had made several arguments as an amicus party as this case developed.

Robust citizenship data is necessary to determine if redistricting maps properly protect minority voters. In the decades-long absence of general citizenship data provided by the Census, the DOJ had to selectively employ citizenship estimates – yet only in jurisdictions where such data were available. Without it, DOJ and others live in a statistical fog to determine whether a minority group is sufficiently large and geographically compact to necessarily yield a single-member district.

Citizenship data helps facilitate private efforts to enforcing voting laws. Census data are critical to determining which jurisdictions are falling behind federal mandates to maintain voter rolls free from bloat and corrupted entries. Courts have repeatedly relied on the ratio between registered voters and resident citizens in a locale as valuable insights—yet the citizenship data in its current form is not without flaws and can risk skewed interpretations. Improved data quality will also help empower private interests to ensure that federal law is being followed.  

Disagreement between Executive Branch Officials and career bureaucrats cannot serve as evidence of discriminatory intent. Plaintiffs are conjuring evidence of discriminatory intent due to administrative policy changes after an election. If such arguments are successful, core foundational concerns regarding the Executive Branch are endangered. The brief notes: “the Constitution of the United States makes plain that ‘executive Power shall be vested in the President of the United States of America.’ As the Supreme Court stated, ‘The insistence of the Framers upon unity in the Federal Executive—to insure both vigor and accountability—is well known.’ The unitary Executive is essential for individual liberty.”

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF Praises SCOTUS Decision on Partisan Gerrymandering Claims

Partisan Gerrymandering Lawsuits are Dead Forever

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 27, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today regarding partisan gerrymandering claims (Rucho v. Common Cause 18-422).

“The Supreme Court wisely chose to reject federal overreach into the states’ constitutional authority to conduct redistricting,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Partisan foes of the federalist balance of power have yet again sunk millions of donor dollars. The 15th Amendment gives federal courts the power to stop racial discrimination.  The Constitution doesn’t give federal courts the power to pick partisan outcomes.”

Read the Foundation’s prior case filings on the matter here. The Foundation made several arguments as an amicus party in recent months.

The original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment does not support political gerrymandering causes of action. [The authors] were elected from districts with far greater disparity between statewide political preferences and the partisan composition of legislative delegations than those districts challenged [in the North Carolina action].

Allowing a federal cause of action for partisan gerrymandering upsets the Constitutional balance. States have the general power to manage their own elections subject to explicit and well-defined exceptions, like violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The lower court’s decision is an affront to the important federalist balance and should be rejected.

The Constitution grants States the power over elections. To the States, the Framers granted exclusively the authority to control who may vote in federal elections … Congress’s power to regulate how elections are held, however, is superior to the States’ power to do the same only when they differ.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

Lawsuit: NC Illegally Withholding Data on Noncitizen Voters

Foundation Alleges North Carolina Is Violating Motor Voter Law

(RALEIGH, NC.) – June 18, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a lawsuit Monday against the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) for failing to disclose noncitizen registered voter records as required under federal law (Public Interest Legal Foundation v. N.C. State Bd. of Elections).

“The NCSBE is hiding records detailing their reported efforts to identify and remove noncitizens registered to vote,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “The disclosure of these records will better improve policymakers’ understanding of how to prevent future ineligible registrations—as opposed to constantly playing defense.

The NCSBE denied access to several forms of documentation outlining how state and/or local officers identify and eventually remove registrants for citizenship-eligibility defects using immigration or driver licensing data. These refusals constitute a violation of the public inspection rights under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, as outlined in the complaint.

In 2018, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District indicted 19 foreign nationals for allegedly participating in the 2016 Election and others.

The new case was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division. The case number is 5:19-cv-00248. Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Noel H. Johnson. Benton Sawrey of Narron Wenzel, P.A. serves as local counsel.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF to Congress: Voting Rights Act Preclearance Was Inefficient

(FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.) – May 6, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) Communications and Research Director Logan C. Churchwell testified before the U.S. House Committee on Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections regarding the need for the return of the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance procedures.

In prepared remarks, Churchwell notes that:

Because of the Voting Rights Act, it has never been easier to register to vote and vote as it is in America in 2019 … 2019 is not 1965. The heavy hand of federal micromanagement of state election law was justified in 1965. It is not in 2019.

Churchwell argues that more modern uses of the preclearance power under the Clinton and Obama Justice Departments yielded abuses.

Unfortunately, the preclearance power became a power that was abused. From South Carolina voter ID to Georgia redistricting, Justice Department lawyers exercised powers that they did not possess by blocking states’ laws that were neither discriminatory in purpose or effect, and in some cases, courts handed down sanctions.

Churchwell reminds the Subcommittee that preclearance as a concept will again prove inefficient if reconstituted.

Whether or not the old preclearance regime can be fully credited for the actual progress made in creating a more just voting system – history will show that the program had a proper time and place – and that time has passed. I contend to this body and the general public that trying to resuscitate the concept of 20th Century-style preclearance will prove an inefficient use of federal resources and will always be at least one step behind emerging population and demographic trends.

Read a copy of Churchwell’s testimony, here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF to Congress: U.S. Lacks Safeguards from Noncitizen Voter Registration

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – May 1, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) litigation counsel Kaylan L. Phillips testifies today before the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties regarding best practices in election administration.

In prepared remarks, Phillips notes that:

[T]he citizenship checks on the federal voter registration form are merely an honor system … In my experience, these “safeguards” are wholly inadequate.

Phillips argues that the vulnerability has proven to fail immigrants and citizens alike.

Noncitizens continue to be registered to vote, sometimes by their own error and sometimes by the errors of election officials. Our research has shown that individuals have been registered to vote even when they leave the citizenship checkbox blank or, worse, when they answer “no” to the question “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”  

Phillips urges the Subcommittee to take substantive action.

If the Committee seeks to protect voters, it would be wise to focus on the failure of the citizenship checkbox. One solution is to equip states to verify citizenship before an individual is placed on the rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has issued reports since 2016 detailing how flaws within the existing Motor Voter programs in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Michigan are exposing ineligible noncitizens to the voter registration process—leading some to vote. These actions often surface when legal permanent residence seek a path to naturalization—only to risk rejection or deportation thereafter.

Read a copy of Phillips’ testimony, here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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Texas Mayor Arrested on ‘Vote Harvesting’ Charges

(ALEXANDRIA, VA.) – April 25, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today commended the State of Texas and local law enforcement for the arrest of Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina.

“Texas continues to be a shining example of how states can fight voter fraud,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Developing cases against alleged ballot ‘harvesting’ schemes demands significant time, manpower, and investigative acumen. Attorney General Ken Paxton and local law enforcement here again prove they have the right stuff to confront corruption in elections.”

According to a Texas Attorney General’s Office release circulated today, sitting Edinburg Mayor Molina won his 2017 race by more than 1,200 votes after he allegedly organized a “harvesting” operation that fraudulently registered voters in addresses not their own—particularly in an apartment complex belonging to Molina.

The Foundation previously alerted Texas election officials and law enforcement to altered voter registration applications mailed by the Texas Democratic Party, which were directed to noncitizen Rio Grande Valley residents. The Secretary of State referred the complaint to AG Paxton’s office for review prior to the 2018 General Election.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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Election Complaint: Man Apparently Voted Twice in NY, FL

(LARGO, FL.) – April 1, 2019: thePublic Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) alerted local, state, and federal law enforcement to on-camera comments and apparently corroborating voting records describing acts of a person voting twice in Pinellas County, Florida, and Erie County, New York, during the 2018 General Election.

The video footage in question may be replayed here. The Foundation cited legal concerns to the various authorities. Under 52 U.S.C.S. § 10307:

(1) Whoever votes more than once in an election referred to in paragraph (2) shall be fined

not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(2) The prohibition of this subsection applies with respect to any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Copies of the complaint letters to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Erie County Board of Elections, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York are available on the Foundation’s website.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation previously filed election complaints in southern Texas in 2018, involving on get-out-the-vote efforts targeting admitted noncitizens. The complaints were later transferred to the Texas Attorney General for criminal investigation.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

Lawsuit Seeking Harris County Noncitizen Voter Records Can Proceed

(HOUSTON, TX.) – March 11, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) commended an order denying the Harris County Registrar’s request to dismiss a lawsuit seeking access to public records showing the extent of noncitizen voter registration in the county. (PILF v. Harris Bennett 4:18-cv-00981).

The federal district court in Houston, Texas, held that the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar’s motion to dismiss PILF’s case is denied and adopted the U.S. Magistrate’s Memorandum and Recommendation on Monday, March 11.

“Proponents of open and transparent government notched an important victory today,” PILF Communications and Research Director Logan Churchwell said. “Federal law empowers everyone access to inspect voter registration records to determine how well they are kept. Harris County has, for years, told the public about noncitizen voting to influence policy in Austin and Washington. This order brings us one step closer to demonstrating the true scale and causes.

Following the Monday order, the Court is slated to consider motions for summary judgment.

The case continues in tandem with a state court action brought by Harris County against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after his office opined that noncitizen records sought by PILF should generally be disclosed under state statutes as well.

PILF previously responded to claims made by Harris County suggesting that it had no right to data related to noncitizen voter registrants and that the federal case should be stayed pending a state court judgment in Austin, among other matters.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 allows individuals to inspect “records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters,” the PILF noted in its original complaint.

A copy of the case fact sheet can be found, here.

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The case number is 4:18-cv-00981.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Noel H. Johnson. Brenham-based Andy Taylor of Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C. serves as local counsel.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF Seeks to Intervene in the Texas Noncitizen Voter Removal Case

(SAN ANTONIO, TX.) – March 1, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a motion to intervene in defense of Texas’ efforts to assist in the identification and removal of noncitizens registered to vote in the state.

The Foundation seeks to intervene in the ongoing case against Texas’ recent guidance to counties offering voter list maintenance leads on potential noncitizens registered to vote. PILF wishes to share its concerns about attacks on protected speech and attempts to chill reasonable efforts to clear voter rolls of ineligible registrants. The Motion to Intervene, filed today, notes:

By characterizing [the State of Texas’] reporting on efforts to maintain an accurate voter registration roll as “voter intimidation” designed to “create fear” and “stoke public anxiety,” this case presents an alarming attack on the power of public officials, and their ancillary rights to participate in the public discourse about the actions of their office … To allege that communications such as these constitute threats, coercion, and voter intimidation is an attack on both constitutionally protected speech and on the power of a state election official to manage elections and voter registration.

LULAC and its allies are heavily invested in chilling Texas’ ability to positively identify and remove noncitizens registered to vote,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This is the end-game for strategy for those who wish to confront the greater election integrity cause. If the plaintiffs prove successful, an official or private party could be accused of voter intimidation for simply communicating concerns about ineligible voter activity.”

The Foundation will make various arguments that it believes would not otherwise be made by the State of Texas.

LULAC’s interpretation of the voter intimidation portion of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional as applied

The VRA plainly requires intimidation, threats, or coercion to actually occur to properly invoke the statute. LULAC and others would have the court rule that communications regarding voter list maintenance efforts be deemed intimidating. LULAC’s allegations seek to expand the Voting Rights Act beyond what the drafters intended and what courts have allowed.

LULAC and others are pleading inadequate facts

The current complaint before the court contains allegations that even if there were found true, cannot entitle relief requested under the Constitution or Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

The Motion to Intervene as Defendant and Proposed Answer by Defendant-Intervenor PILF filings can be found, here. Case number 5:19-cv-00074 (LULAC et. al. v. Texas) is proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas – San Antonio Division.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Kaylan L. Phillips. Andy Taylor from the Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C. serves as local counsel.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

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