LULAC v. Public Interest Legal Foundation

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At a Glance

Four Americans and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Richmond are suing the Public Interest Legal Foundation and its president, J. Christian Adams, for engaging in a multiyear campaign of voter intimidation in the state of Virginia.

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About this Case

Four Americans and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Richmond (“LULAC”) are suing the Public Interest Legal Foundation (“PILF”) and its president, J. Christian Adams, for engaging in a multiyear campaign of voter intimidation in the state of Virginia. They are trying to prove that PILF has violated both state and federal laws by falsely accusing eligible voters of registering and voting illegally, and by publishing — in reports still available online — those individuals’ names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and in some cases, social security numbers.

The complaint claims that, in 2016 and 2017 PILF published two reports claiming rampant voter fraud by non-citizens in Virginia. PILF made unfounded assertions that a number of individuals had been removed from state voting rolls for possibly being non-citizens. However, Virginia elections officials have repeatedly emphasized to PILF that even American citizens can be removed from the voting rolls for any number of reasons, including things as mundane as paperwork errors.

The plight of the four individual plaintiffs in this case is a prime example of how voter roll purges can harm even eligible voters. These four American citizens were removed from Virginia’s voting rolls, despite being legally eligible to vote and have a constitutional right to do so. PILF not only claimed that these individuals, and scores more, have voted illegally, accusing them of voter fraud felonies, they also published these individuals’ personal information in reports that are still available online.

PILF’s harmful accusations and the publication of plaintiffs’ sensitive personal information constitute intimidation tactics designed to threaten, embarrass, harass and dissuade plaintiffs and others from voting. Plaintiffs allege that PILF and its president have violated Virginia state law and several federal laws, including the seminal Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA prohibits the intimidation or attempted intimidation of any person attempting to vote.

PILF has responded to LULAC’s complaint by filing a motion to have it dismissed, alleging that the plaintiffs have not applied or satisfied the appropriate legal standards to prove voter intimidation.

CLC has filed a friend-of-the-court brief explaining that PILF’s interpretations of the law are patently incorrect, and that PILF’s publication of individuals’ personal information is a modern form of voter intimidation, strikingly similar to tactics used throughout our nation’s history to disenfranchise eligible voters.

PILF’s conduct undercuts one of our most fundamental rights, the right to vote. The organization’s intentional intimidation of eligible voters sends a clear message to plaintiffs and to the American people more broadly that political engagement may come at a steep price, and that exercising a constitutional right may lead to the publication of one’s most sensitive personal information on the Internet. PILF’s actions are designed to intimidate, to deter political participation and to undermine the functioning of American democratic processes. It is paramount that our political system safeguard the right of all to have their voice heard in the electoral process.

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Documents

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