On May 25, 2023, Lawyers Democracy Fund filed amicus briefs in support of granting summary judgment against the plaintiffs in two Pennsylvania cases, Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP v. Schmidt and Eakin v. Adams County Board of Elections. The cases are similar, challenging the state’s decision to not count undated or wrongly-dated mail-in ballots during the 2022 General Election.
LDF argues that Plaintiffs’ legal theories would unreasonably expand the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act which states that:
No person “acting under color of law shall. . . deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election[.]
LDF’s briefs explain:
The Plaintiffs’ legal theory urges the Court to expand the reach of the “Materiality Provision” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 52 U.S.C. § 10101(a)(2)(B), to the subject of ballot processing and validation, well beyond its intended application to voter qualification and registration. This unreasonably expands the scope of the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, this expansive theory’s complete lack of standards would illogically invalidate an array of essential state voting rules, leaving large gaps in state election administration. These problems provided the Supreme Court solid substantive reasons for vacating the Third Circuit’s unprecedented and poorly conceived decision in Migliori.
In sum, LDF’s briefs make the following four points:
1. Plaintiffs’ legal theory contravenes the plain text of the statute.
2. Plaintiffs’ legal theory contravenes the obvious statutory context.
3. Plaintiffs’ legal theory contravenes other interpretive canons.
4. Plaintiffs’ legal theory jeopardizes all Pennsylvania mail-in voting.
LDF is hopeful that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania will grant summary judgment against the plaintiffs in these important cases.