Appeals Court Rejects a Frivolous Challenge to Georgia’s Election Laws
As you may recall, the Biden Administration sued the State of Georgia to challenge certain provisions of the State’s election reform law that was enacted earlier this year. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), on behalf of hundreds of thousands of our supporters and 57 Members of Congress, filed a brief that emphasized the substantial constitutional authority of Georgia, and other states, to protect the integrity of their elections.
The Biden Administration’s lawsuit is just one of many lawsuits across the country that seeks to deprive states of their constitutional authority to take reasonable, non-discriminatory steps to protect the integrity of their elections. Many of these lawsuits rest upon absurd arguments that should be summarily rejected by the courts.
For instance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently issued a unanimous decision rejecting a nonsensical American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit that claimed that Georgia imposed an unconstitutional poll tax by giving voters the option to return an absentee ballot by mail, but not actually providing those voters with postage stamps at taxpayers’ expense.
The court’s decision stated, “[t]he novel theory that Plaintiffs ask us to adopt – that Georgia imposes a ‘tax’ by not paying for a service (postage) to assist voters who choose to vote through the absentee process and then choose to return their ballot by mail – simply does not hold water.” The court rejected the plaintiffs’ “disingenuous” and “completely illogical” claim that any payment to the government must be considered a “tax” or a “penalty,” noting that individuals often pay for a variety of government-run services (utilities, mail delivery, etc.), and such payments by customers are clearly not taxes or penalties.
The court’s opinion concluded by stating: “We note that the Plaintiffs’ claims border on the frivolous. At this time, however, we are not imposing sanctions.” Although it is unlikely that the Eleventh Circuit’s decision will stop the filing of similarly frivolous lawsuits, the decision is an example of common sense—and the rule of law—prevailing in the hotly contested area of election regulation.
As we noted in our recent amicus brief, election regulations are not rendered unconstitutional by the fact that they may require eligible voters to take reasonable steps in order to exercise their right to vote (requesting or sending in an absentee ballot, obtaining and presenting a photo ID, etc.). Rather, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to vote is not violated where any burdens imposed by voting regulations would be “modest,” “limited,” “unremarkable,” or a “[m]ere inconvenience,” or would fall within “the usual burdens of voting.”
Despite these clear holdings, and despite the fact that it has never been easier to vote in this country than it is now, opponents of election integrity laws continue to claim that even the slightest actual (or imagined) inconvenience that could be experienced by a voter creates a constitutional crisis that warrants federal court intervention to override state laws. We will continue to monitor these cases and file briefs to defend election integrity and the Constitution.