Federal judge in New Jersey bars GOP from challenging voters in Ohio -- wha?
While I have been tied up today practicing law and going to the dentist, all sorts of stuff happened in Ohio. It is best summed up by rick Hasen's post, What the Heck is Going on in Ohio?. Rick cites to a Newsday article that covers the same story as this one:
Bloomberg.com reports: A federal judge barred the Ohio Republican Party from using a list of 23,000 newly registered voters to challenge their ability to cast ballots in tomorrow's presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise in Newark, New Jersey, ruled that Republicans violated decrees he issued in the 1980s that barred political parties from using race or ethnicity as a factor in challenging the integrity of voter registrations.
The ruling came after two U.S. judges in Ohio ruled in separate cases today that only poll workers, not challengers working for Republicans, could determine if the 23,000 people could vote. Debevoise said Ohio Republicans joined the Republican National Committee in unfairly targeting minority voters in trying to stamp out fraud.
``The effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting,'' Debevoise said in issuing his ruling. ``The public interest is always served by encouraging people to vote.''
Debevoise ordered the Republican National Committee to tell its poll challengers to forgo use of the list tomorrow. Attorneys for the national party immediately appealed to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which oversees Debevoise. -- U.S. Judge Bars Ohio Republicans From Voter Challenge (Update1) (Bloomberg.com)
Herewith a prediction: Judge Debevoise's order has the potential of preventing all sorts of mischief, not only in Ohio but elsewhere. But if, and only IF, the Third Circuit does not overturn it. The problem will be how broadly the old New Jersey injunction -- and the new New Jersey order -- can be read. Does they prevent all challenges by the GOP or just ones that could be considered racially disparate? I had a copy of the injunction many years ago, but can't find it now.
UPDATE: thanks to Sardonic Views for pointing to the PDF of the 1987 decree (see comments to this post). Note that Paragraph C requires the "RNC shall not engage in, and shall not assist or participate in, any ballot security program unless the program ... has been determined by this Court to comply with the provisions of Consent Order and applicable law." That's pretty all inclusive.
So on Tuesday, if you see any GOP challengers anywhere in the country, pull out your copy of the consent decree, give them a copy, and then ask for their names so that you can report them to the Court .