Judge Denies Motion to Halt Voter Citizenship Requirement

Lawyers challenging rule have given thousands to Clinton

Hillary Clinton / AP
February 24, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declined to block a rule in three states that requires individuals to prove they are citizens when registering to vote using mail-in registration forms.

The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of left-wing groups, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, earlier this month.

Three lawyers representing the liberal organizations have given thousands in campaign contributions to Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who on numerous occasions has expressed opposition to voter identification laws on the campaign trial.

The suit argues that the executive director of the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Brian D. Newby, violated the Administrative Procedure Act when he granted requests by Georgia, Kansas, and Alabama to modify federal forms to require voter applicants using a national mail-in form to provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

The groups sought to temporarily halt the new requirement. Richard J. Leon, the judge presiding over the issue, denied the request.

"Plaintiffs ask this Court to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining defendants the EAC and Mr. Newby from enforcing his decisions and ‘to take all actions necessary to restore the status quo ante…’ Upon consideration of the parties’ written and submissions and oral argument, the court DENIES plaintiffs’ motion," the court order reads.

Leon rejected the request because the lawyers representing the left-wing groups could not prove that immediate and irreparable harm would occur without a stoppage of the requirement at this time.

J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), was granted the right to intervene as a defendant on behalf of the states after the Justice Department refused to defend the actions of the Election Assistance Commission.

"The Obama Justice Department has shown a clear hostility towards ensuring voter integrity," Adams said. "Non-citizens have participated in American elections and verifying citizenship is the first step to stopping aliens from influencing who is in power."

Adams lauded the court’s decision to deny the motion, saying that giving states the power to verify voters’ citizenship devolves power away from bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

"Americans believe overwhelmingly that only citizens should be voting in American elections. Allowing states to continue to ensure that Americans are voting and illegal aliens are not is the right thing to do," Adams said. "The Constitution gives states the power to establish qualifications for voters and to enforce those rules. Denying states the effective power to verify citizenship concentrates power in Washington D.C. bureaucrats."

Several of the lawyers pushing for the restraining orders are Clinton donors.

Michael Keats, an attorney from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York City, donated $2,000 to Clinton’s current campaign in Oct. 2015.

Linda Stein, another lawyer involved from the D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson, is also a backer of Hillary Clinton, having donated $2,850 to her presidential campaigns since 2007.

John Freedman has given $4,700 to Clinton in recent years. Freedman, an attorney at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., poured $2,700 into Clinton’s campaign as recently as Dec. 1, 2015. He is also involved with the lawsuit.

None of the attorneys returned a previous request for comment on the matter. A hearing on the preliminary injunction will take place on March 9.