A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama's voter identification law.
The lawsuit challenging Alabama's law was filed around the same time a larger voter ID campaign was underway in a number of states that was spearheaded by the Hillary Clinton campaign's top lawyer, Marc Elias.
The lawsuit, initially filed in Dec. 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, was submitted on behalf of the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP. The suit challenged the constitutionality of the state's voter ID law and argued that the law discriminated against minorities and "immediately disenfranchised" 280,000 voters.
"For five decades, Alabama's use of discriminatory voting schemes has necessitated repeated federal intervention," the lawsuit read. "Now, Alabama again seeks to disfranchise thousands of African-American and Latino voters—all in the name of ‘curing' a voter fraud problem that does not exist."
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler dismissed the suit on Wednesday by saying that there is not an undue burden placed on individuals who wish to vote. A person who does not have a photo identification is not prevented from casting a ballot because it is "so easy" to obtain one in Alabama, a portion of the court order reads. Photo IDs are available free of charge to residents of the state.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the decision to dismiss the lawsuit was "without a doubt the right decision."
"Alabama's voter identification law is one of the broadest in the nation with procedures in place to allow anyone who does not have a photo ID to obtain one," said Marshall. "The court order makes the point exceedingly clear: ‘… a person who does not have a photo ID is not prevented from voting if he or she can easily get one, and it is so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, no one is prevented from voting."
Elias, a partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of Perkins Coie who served as Clinton's top campaign lawyer, led a multi-state campaign against voter ID laws leading up to the 2016 elections. Elias filed the challenges in his personal capacity as a partner at Perkins Coie.
Although Elias did not file the Alabama lawsuit, an attorney involved with the suit was a Clinton donor. Clinton also publicly backed the lawsuit against Alabama's voter ID law in late 2015 and referred to it as a "blast from the Jim Crow past."
"The right to vote is essential to our democracy, and so Hillary Clinton strongly supports the NAACP [Legal Defense and Educational Fund's] efforts to right the wrongs of Gov. Bentley and the Alabama Legislature," Maya Harris, the former senior policy adviser for the Clinton campaign, and the sister of Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), said at the time.
The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP did not return a request for comment on the lawsuit's dismissal by press time.