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Equal Protection

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Format: 2020
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Fair Elections Ohio v. Husted (Susan J. Dlott and S. Arthur Spiegel, 1:12-cv-797) and Mays v. Husted (Michael H. Watson, 2:18-cv-1376) (S.D. Ohio)
Prisoner-rights organizations filed a federal complaint seeking provisions ensuring the ability to vote by voters detained during the days immediately preceding the 2012 general election. The district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief because they had not presented compelling evidence of disfranchisement. The state’s accommodations for persons with medical emergencies on election day did not create an equal protection violation because of the different burdens placed on election officials. After the case was transferred to another judge in 2014, and after additional discovery, the second judge granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on a showing that the burden on disfranchised voters outweighed the burden on accommodating late-jailed voters. The court of appeals determined, over a dissent, however, that the plaintiff organizations did not have standing. A lawsuit filed in 2018 by two persons arrested over the weekend before election day and detained through election day was successful for them. The judge later granted summary judgment to a certified plaintiff class. The court of appeals, however, determined that the franchise burden on arrested voters is modest and justified by election officials’ burdens in providing new prisoners with ballots.
Topics: Prisoner voters; equal protection; absentee ballots; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Napierski v. Guilderland Democratic Committee (Glenn T. Suddaby, N.D.N.Y. 1:18-cv-846)
A district judge denied relief to a prospective candidate who challenged the plaintiff’s party picking nominees for local offices using a caucus instead of a primary election, as other parties used. Receptive to claims that the caucus would not be adequately accessible to persons with disabilities, however, the judge obtained remedial assurances from the defendants.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures; primary election; enjoining elections; equal protection; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Schulz v. Iowa (James E. Gritzner, S.D. Iowa 4:07-cv-350)
An eight-plaintiff pro se federal complaint challenged the participation fee for Iowa State University’s Republican straw poll for the 2008 presidential election, which was to be held two days after the complaint was filed. On the afternoon before the poll, the district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief from the bench after a hearing. The court of appeals affirmed the decision, on the day of the poll.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Pro se party; equal protection; interlocutory appeal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Florida Democratic Party v. Detzner (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-607)
A little over one month before a general election, a political party filed a federal complaint seeking opportunities to cure mismatches between absentee ballot signatures and voter registration signatures, noting an existing opportunity to cure signature omissions. After taking testimony from the local county supervisor of elections, the district judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring an opportunity to cure signature mismatches.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Signature matching; absentee ballots; equal protection; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available for Distribution

In her introduction to these informative videos, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the Northern District of Illinois describes employment discrimination law as one of the most dynamic fields of federal law. Together Judge Pallmeyer and Judge Bernice Donald of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals examine examples and interpretations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the various amendments and federal statutes that have expanded protections to various protected classes.

At the heart of the discussion is the defining of seven key terms of art: discrimination, causation, harassment, accommodation, retaliation, conciliation, and remediation.

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City of Greensboro v. Guilford County Board of Elections (Catherine C. Eagles, M.D.N.C. 1:15-cv-559)
On July 2, 2015, a state legislature restructured a city council from five members representing districts and three members elected at large to eight members representing districts, and the legislature removed control over the structure of city government from this city alone. On July 13, two weeks before the beginning of a candidate filing period, a federal complaint challenged the act, and the district judge determined that the act probably violated equal protection by treating the city differently from all other cities in the state, so the election proceeded according to the original council structure. Following a bench trial in 2017, the judge additionally determined that the new district lines unconstitutionally favored one political party. Because no party defended the constitutionality of the legislation, the judge declined the plaintiffs an award of attorney fees.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Equal protection; intervention; malapportionment; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch (Richard F. Cebull and Donald W. Molloy, D. Mont. 1:12-cv-135)
Members of three Indian tribes sought the establishment of satellite county clerk and recorder offices for voter registration and in-person absentee voting. The first judge assigned to the case denied relief for lack of discriminatory intent and because reservation residents have successfully elected candidates of their choice. After the first judge retired, a second judge determined that the plaintiffs had alleged plausible equal protection and voting rights claims.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Poll locations; equal protection; section 2 discrimination; early voting; absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Mullins v. Cole (Robert C. Chambers, S.D. W. Va. 3:16-cv-9918)
A district judge determined that a county clerk’s refusal to accept online voter registrations from the state’s website violated equal protection. The judge issued a preliminary injunction five days after the complaint was filed.
Topics: Registration procedures; equal protection; class action; student registration; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Davis v. Cooney (Eleanor L. Ross, N.D. Ga. 1:16-cv-3844)
A voter filed a suit to stop a referendum on the incorporation of a new city because two regions of the proposed city might not be included in the new city, depending on the results of other litigation, and so voters in those regions allegedly would dilute the plaintiff’s vote. The district judge determined that the Equal Protection Clause did not restrict who could vote on incorporation as the plaintiff alleged.
Topics: Enjoining elections; equal protection; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Parker v. Duran (Martha Vázquez, D.N.M. 1:14-cv-617)
An independent candidate who did not collect enough signatures to appear on the general election ballot filed a federal complaint challenging the signature requirement as improperly greater than the requirement for minor-party candidates. The district court denied the plaintiff relief, and the court of appeals affirmed dismissal of the case.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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