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electionlineWeekly — March 1, 2018

Table of Contents

 VII. Legal Updates

Supreme Court of the United States: The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case from Minnesota which pits the First Amendment against polling place attire rules. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the justices described the statute as overly broad, but also questioned whether political symbols could be used to improperly sway voters. "It does reach quite a bit beyond what I think a reasonable observer would think is necessary," Chief Justice John Roberts said during the hourlong oral arguments. "The idea that [voters are] going to be protected from recognizing that other people support different candidates than they might, I think, is a bit more of a stretch." The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld Minnesota's law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June.

Alabama: Legal counsel for the Alabama NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and minority voters filed an appeal of the state’s voter ID law in the U.S. district court in northern Alabama. “The district court acknowledged our evidence that over 100,000 voters, disproportionately Black and Latino voters, lack the required photo ID to vote, but suggested the disparities are not significant,” Natasha Merle, NAACP’s Legal and Education Defense Fund assistant counsel told The Associated Press. “The disenfranchisement of several thousand voters is not trivial. We will continue to fight to ensure every eligible Alabama voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

Arkansas: Circuit Judge Alice Gray has set a hearing March 12 on a lawsuit that asks that she enjoin use of the state's new voter ID law in the May primary elections.

California: A Kern County judge has sided with MALDEF — the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund — which had sued the county alleging that supervisor districts drawn in 2011 violated the Voting Rights Act.

Louisiana: A three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal at the LSU Law Center heard arguments this week about whether or not felons on probation and parole should be allowed to vote.

Maine: The Committee For Ranked Choice Voting and eight candidates have filed suit in Kennebec Superior Court asking the court to institute ranked choice voting in time for the June primaries.

New York: The Manhattan Democratic County Committee is dropping a lawsuit against the New York City Council over a nomination for a commissioner to the board of elections.

Utah: Lawyers for San Juan County have filed an emergency motion in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals objecting to a lower court’s ruling that would redraw voting district boundaries and require that special elections be held this year.