Lichtenstein v. Hargett


At a Glance

On behalf of a local organizer and community engagement groups, CLC is challenging Tennessee’s felony prohibition on distributing absentee ballot applications, which deters organizations and individuals from encouraging and assisting eligible voters in obtaining mail ballots.

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About this Case

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represents individual Jeffrey Lichtenstein and community organizations the Memphis A. Phillip Randolph Institute (MAPRI), Free Hearts, Memphis Central Labor Council (MCLC), and the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, in their efforts to stop enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of absentee ballot applications by anyone other than an election official.

Mr. Lichtenstein and the Tennessee-based community organizations who brought this suit wish to distribute absentee ballot applications to eligible voters during voter engagement and get out the vote campaigns. But Tennessee law prohibits the plaintiffs from providing voters with the tools necessary to vote by mail. Although the application is available to download on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website, it is a felony to download the application and provide it to an eligible voter—even at the voter’s request. Tennessee is among a very small minority of states that restrict voter engagement and advocacy in such a draconic manner. The lawsuit asks the Court to find that the law violates the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to engage in political speech, and to stop the State from enforcing the prohibition.

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