• Mar 14, 2015

Houston Institute Amicus Brief Challenging Voter ID Law

The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, The Cyber Privacy Project (CPP) and Dr. Richard Sobel, recently filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of a petition for writ of certiorari seeking to challenge the state of Wisconsin’s voter identification law on the ground that it represents a constitutional abridgement of voting rights and effectively disenfranchises significant segments of the voting public. The underlying cases are Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al. and League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin, et al. v. Thomas Barland, et al.

In the last two decades, more than 20 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. Some have attempted to justify the constitutionality of these laws by offering “free” voter IDs. This amicus brief, citing instances of undue expense reflected in a study conducted by Dr. Sobel with support of the Houston Institute and CPP, showed that so-called free voter IDs are not in fact free. Instead, the expenses for obtaining free IDs can range from $75 to $500, taking into account expenses related to supporting documentation, travel and waiting time. If sometimes-necessary legal fees are added, costs can range as high as $1,500. These amounts are significant for low-income voters and disproportionately affect protected classes such as racial minorities, women and the elderly.

The amicus brief was prepared by a multi-office team of Bryan Cave lawyers spearheaded by Phoenix Partner Meridyth Andresen, with assistance from Partners Ben Clark (St. Louis) and Nafiz Cekirge (New York) and Associates Nancy Franco (Santa Monica), Lindsay Hesketh (Phoenix), LaRue Robinson (St. Louis) and Adriel Sanders (DC).

Read our brief:

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