Voting Rights

  • January 5, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Allegra Chapman, Director of Voting and Elections,Common Cause

    Ever missed a federal election?  If you’re like most Americans, the answer is yes. In this last presidential election 55% of eligible Americans cast ballots, and in the mid-term before that only 36% did—the lowest rate in 70 years. Voters miss elections for lots of reasons, ranging from illness to work commitments to downright disappointment in the political system. No matter the reason, failing to cast a ballot doesn’t impact your constitutional right to vote down the road.  At least, it shouldn’t. 

    On January 10, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute, a case that addresses whether Ohio elections officials may target for removal from the registration rolls voters who’ve failed to vote, or otherwise update their information, over a two-year period (or one federal election cycle). Thanks to the state’s “supplemental” purging process, roughly two million voter registration records have been removed over the past 15 years.

  • October 17, 2017

    by Dan Froomkin

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a perplexingly contradictory view of civil rights law when it comes to transgendered people.

    On the one hand, he is enthusiastic about prosecuting murder cases in which the victims were allegedly targeted because of their gender identity. On the other hand, he went out of his way to give employers a green light to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace; rejected the Obama administration interpretation that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice;  and defended Donald Trump's half-baked tweet in favor of banning transgender troops.

    The backtracks on transgender protections are among several stark and abrupt reversals from practices during the Obama era that have come under Sessions's watch. One on level, that's not so surprising, coming from the attorney general for a president who on Monday described himself, accurately, as "very opposite" from his predecessor.

  • September 27, 2017

    by Belinda Macauley, ACS Vice President of Development and Senior Counsel

    Without question, ACS’s work has never been more important than it is today. We believe in the rule of law and that the law should be a force to improve the lives of all people. President Trump and his administration, on the other hand, have shown incredible hostility – and often blatant disregard – toward our Constitution, our system of checks and balances, and our judiciary. ACS is standing up to these assaults by collaborating with coalition partners on policy solutions and mobilizing a progressive legal network on many fronts to fight back. Below are some highlights of our recent efforts.

    Supporting State Attorneys General

    As independent government officials, state attorneys general can mount serious challenges to administrative actions, federal laws, and even their own state’s laws. Given the current political environment and the many issues to be addressed beyond, state AGs are often the only state officials able to protect the interests of their constituents. They are uniquely positioned to confront the challenges posed by the Trump Administration and a Department of Justice that has already begun to abdicate many of its prior roles and responsibilities in protecting critical rights.

  • September 26, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Joshua A. Douglas, law professor, University of Kentucky College of Law

    The Constitution can save us. Yes, the same document that gave us the Electoral College, unfettered presidential pardons, and deadlock in Congress can be our democracy’s savior – but only if we as a society actively embrace it through political participation. That means registering to vote and exercising the franchise.

    September 17 was Constitution Day, a nationwide celebration of our founding document. September 26 is National Voter Registration Day. These two days should cause all Americans to acknowledge the fundamental role that the Constitution and political participation plays to the foundation of our democracy. We all need to double down in our efforts to protect those sacred rights. And it need not require huge efforts or a ton of work: simply reminding your neighbor to register to vote can have a big impact.

  • September 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkin

    The Justice Department's recent about-face on a voting rights case was such a betrayal of long-standing DOJ policy that a group of former political appointees and career lawyers filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on Friday, citing more than two decades of consistent enforcement of the rule in question – until Trump.

    In a possibly unprecedented move, the former Justice lawyers essentially made an argument on behalf of the Department as an institution, representing itself in opposition to its current leadership.

    "Amici submit this brief in their individual capacities to provide the Court with the Department’s longstanding view of the Question Presented, the view the current administration has abandoned," the brief says.