The NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that President Trump's voting commission “was formed with the intent to discriminate against voters of color in violation of the Constitution.”
“Statements by President Trump, his spokespersons and surrogates . . . as well as the work of the Commission as described by its co-chairs, are grounded on the false premise that Black and Latino voters are more likely to perpetrate voter fraud,” the suit alleges.
As evidence, the suit points to Trump's repeated unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. Those claims were subsequently repeated by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, now the chair and vice-chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump set up to investigate his unfounded claims.
The complaint also points to the “virulently racist rhetoric” of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a group associated with two of the commission's members, Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams. In May that group, headed by Adams, released a dubiously sourced report caricaturing noncitizens as invading space aliens, complete with cartoonish illustrations of UFOs.
The lawsuit alleges that the commission is designed “to reaffirm President Trump’s false allegations of millions of 'illegal' votes, and to provide a basis for actions that will target African-American and Latino voters, rather than objectively analyze an issue of national significance.” The group is asking the federal court to order the commission to cease all activities.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund complaint is at least the seventh federal lawsuit filed against the voting commission this month. The other lawsuits:
- A suit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center alleging that “the Commission’s demand for detailed voter histories also violates millions of Americans' constitutional right to privacy.” In response to that complaint, the commission voluntarily asked states to stop sending voter data until the lawsuit is resolved.
- A suit by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that the commission is failing to comply with federal transparency laws. The ACLU argues that the commission's first meeting, held via phone, was not open to the public and that the commission did not publicly post documents related to its operation as required by law. Three days after the ACLU suit was filed, the White House published a Web page containing many of those documents.
- A similar lawsuit filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Right Under Law, alleging noncompliance with federal transparency laws. That group has also filed a Hatch Act complaint alleging that Kobach improperly used his seat on the commission to promote his upcoming run for Kansas governor.
- A separate lawsuit by the Florida ACLU alleging that the commission's data collection efforts amount to “an unjustified invasion of privacy not authorized under the Constitution and laws of the United States or the individual states.”
- A similar lawsuit by the civil liberties group Public Citizen alleging that the commission's “collection and dissemination of [voter] information violates the Privacy Act, which prohibits the collection, use, maintenance or distribution of any 'record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.' ” The group is requesting a temporary restraining order on the committee's actions.
- Similarly, the watchdog group Common Cause filed a lawsuit alleging Privacy Act violations. “Common Cause asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order the commission, [the Department of Homeland Security], and [the Social Security Administration] to stop seeking and using the voter history and party affiliation of voters, and return any such data it has already obtained from any state,” the group announced.
In addition, several separate challenges have been filed by groups at the state level, in Indiana, New Hampshire and Idaho.
Representatives for the commission did not immediately return a request for comment.
The commission is scheduled to hold its first in-person meeting Wednesday.