NAACP Legal Defense Fund : Defend, Educate, Empower

Skip to Navigation
"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

LDF Urges 11th Circuit to Give Plaintiffs Day in Court in Challenge to Alabama's Racially Discriminatory Photo ID Law

2/21/18

Read a PDF of our statement here.

LDF Urges 11th Circuit to Give Plaintiffs Day in Court in Challenge to Alabama's Racially Discriminatory Photo ID Law

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Covington & Burling, LLP, and local counsel Mitch McGuire have filed an appeal today of the U.S. District Court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s photo ID law. In January, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler dismissed the lawsuit brought on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Alabama NAACP, and individual voters. The appeal argues that the district court should not have granted the Secretary of State’s motion for summary judgment and disregarded powerful evidence that the photo ID law intentionally discriminated against and burdened Black and Latino voters.

“Our plaintiffs presented substantial evidence demonstrating that this photo ID law was enacted with discriminatory intent,” said Deuel Ross, LDF Assistant Counsel. “State legislators anticipated this law would have a racially discriminatory impact, and it did. We provided proof of Black and Latino Alabamians facing multiple burdens in accessing the proper identification in order to vote. Because our conflicting evidence has not been resolved, our plaintiffs deserve their day in court.”

In its dismissal in January, the district court credited the Secretary of State’s evidence that suggested home visits by an ID-issuing mobile unit would erase the very real burdens faced by thousands of voters, while completely disregarding the plaintiffs’ contrary evidence. In fact, only five such home visits occurred, and the visits began only after the filing of this lawsuit.

The district court also disregarded evidence that the law purposefully imposes a burden on Black and Latino voters because they disproportionately lack the appropriate photo ID. That disproportionate impact means that the photo ID law cannot stand if it intentionally discriminates against Black and Latino voters regardless of whether they can successfully overcome the burdens imposed on them.

“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,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Natasha Merle. “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.”

The original complaint, filed in December 2015, alleged that Alabama enacted a photo ID law that the State’s own initial analysis showed would disfranchise over a quarter of a million registered voters, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Latino, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The photo ID law was passed in 2011 when Alabama was still subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5’s “preclearance” requirement prevented Alabama from enforcing the photo ID law until the State could prove to a federal court or the U.S. Department of Justice that the law was non-discriminatory. Alabama never submitted the photo ID law for preclearance. 

Read the full appellate brief here. 

Press:

###

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.