PILF Response to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Voting Report

Published On: September 12th, 2018

Report Riddled with Errors and Exaggerations for Partisan Gain

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – September 12, 2018: Leadership for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today reacted to the findings of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ latest report outlining alleged voting access problems. Several PILF staff and board officers were invited to testify before the Commission in February 2018.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams notes:

“The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights isn’t living up to its historic standards. The report on voting and elections is full of errors, exaggerations, and outlandish efforts to scare minorities into thinking they won’t be able to cast a ballot. Registering to vote and voting has never been easier in the history of the United States. That fact is nowhere to be found in the document. The report reads more like a ‘Get Out the Vote’ flyer designed to benefit partisan turnout than a careful and credible report on voting. That’s a shame, and President Trump will have to very carefully examine who serves on and works for this Commission when he has the ability to appoint replacement Commissioners.

Issues with the Report

  • Commission Chair Catherine E. Lhamon and USCCR staff falsely claims the report’s proposals were unanimously agreed to. Both Commissioners Peter Kirsanow and Gale Heriot voted against declaring that the Voting Rights Act should be reformed to effectively reverse Shelby County v. Holder and other matters.
  • The report repeatedly makes errors about a Voting Rights Act case US v. Ike Brown.
  • The progressive commissioners repeatedly relied on a 2012 Soros-funded News21 report to argue “there is ‘utterly no evidence’ that points to any significant level of instances of in-person voter fraud.”
  • Despite submissions to the contrary, the report remains silent on documented voter registration system failures occurring after 2012 where Motor Voter exposed thousands of ineligible noncitizens to the election system in several states.
  • The report sloppily hails automatic voter registration as a “positive measure” in general despite high-profile failures in Oregon and most recently California.
  • The report outlandishly accuses the Roberts Court in Shelby County of sharing “a direct line” to the violence in Charlottesville, where “alt-right, neo-Nazi, and hate groups, in their putsch-filled delusions, believe they can turn back the clock and preserve the supremacy of their self-defined racial purity.”

PILF Board Chairman Cleta D. Mitchell is credited, however, on page 266 for noting how the Commission’s behavior is demonstrative of “the grievance industry” on full display.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams, Board Chairman Cleta D. Mitchell, and Board Member Hans A. von Spakovsky were invited to discuss a wide range of topics during the Raleigh hearing in February 2018.

Excerpts from the PILF representatives’ prepared statements are provided below.

“One of the most effective ways to preserve the viability of civil rights laws is to remove partisan politics from civil rights enforcement. As soon as a sizeable segment of the public believes that civil rights laws are being leveraged for partisan ends, a sizeable segment of the public will stop supporting civil rights. The Voting Rights Act has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for decades. But if enforcement of the law is hijacked by partisan interests, the law will lose this bipartisan support.”

J. Christian Adams, PILF President and General Counsel

This Commission, with all due respect, should be about the business of gathering facts, not perpetuating myths … The recent history of litigation involving North Carolina election laws shows that the present system is working, where interest groups and litigants are having their day in court and getting their way, even when the empirical evidence discloses that minority voter turnout is not harmed by enactment of voter integrity measures. Even without preclearance requirements, federal law and the U.S. Constitution are wholly adequate to protect the right to vote.”

Cleta D. Mitchell, Foley & Lardner Partner and PILF Board Chairman

“A review of the litigation record of the Voting Section during the administrations of Bush and Obama shows a sharp, overall downward trend in the number of enforcement actions filed by the Justice Department under the various provisions of the [Voting Rights Act] from 2001 to 2016, including after 2013, the year Shelby County was decided … [F]ive years after Shelby County, there is still no evidence of widespread, systemic, official discrimination by any of the formerly covered jurisdictions or any other state.”

Hans A. von Spakovsky, Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow and PILF Board Member

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.


Public Interest Legal Foundation