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Case Name Collins v. Adams VR-KY-0009
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00375 ( W.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Case Summary
This suit was filed on May 27, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The suit was brought by several individual plaintiffs as well as the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, the Louisville Urban League, and the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches. They were ... read more >
This suit was filed on May 27, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The suit was brought by several individual plaintiffs as well as the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, the Louisville Urban League, and the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches. They were represented by lawyers from ACLU National, ACLU of Kentucky Foundation, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and private counsel. They brought this suit against Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, Governor Andrew Beshear, and the Chairman of the Kentucky Board of Elections Albert Benjamin Chandler. The suit focused on two Kentucky election laws in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. One was a requirement that to vote absentee a voter needed to have a valid excuse as to why they would not be able to get to the polls in person (the Excuse Requirement). The plaintiffs argued that for some voters, the risk of contracting the virus while at the polls would discourage them from exercising their right to vote. If they could vote absentee, that would grant them the power to vote while staying safe at home. The second election law that was challenged required Kentucky voters to present photo identification when voting, either in-person or absentee (the Photo ID Requirement). The complaint argued that this requirement was simply impossible for many would-be voters, given that many of the offices that issue ID's were closed due to the pandemic. Underlying the plaintiffs' argument with respect to both of these requirements was the claim that the laws would disproportionately disenfranchise black voters. The plaintiffs argued that, at least within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the laws violated the right to vote guaranteed by the First Amendment ad the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and injunctive relief in the form of preliminary and permanent injunctions that would prohibit the defendants from enforcing the two laws, and also force defendants to administer the November 3 general election in the same way that they would administer the June 23 primary election.

The case was assigned to Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson.

On June 19, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the case as the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the plaintiffs had not submitted a claim upon which relief could be granted. They claimed that, while they sympathized with the plaintiffs' views, that the court should not be in the business of constraining the state's election laws, especially at a time where greater flexibility was required in addressing the pandemic. They also argued that there was no discriminatory intent behind either law, and that the plaintiffs had not suffered an injury in fact.

Ten days later, the Secretary of State filed an answer, denying the plaintiffs' allegations and likewise arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and had failed to raise a claim upon which relief could be granted. He also argued that they failed to join indispensable parties and that the assertions raised in the complaint were political questions.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on July 10, 2020. In arguing for injunctive relief, the plaintiffs claimed that the Excuse Requirement and the Photo ID Requirement, while perhaps legitimate under normal conditions, unconstitutionally required voters to choose between their right to vote and their safety.

On the same day, the Commonwealth of Kentucky ex rel. Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion to intervene as a defendant.

The case is ongoing as of August 10, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 08/10/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Voting
Election administration
Voter ID
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Chairman of the Kentucky Board of Elections Albert Benjamin Chandler
Kentucky Governor Andrew Beshear
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams
Plaintiff Description Individual plaintiffs, the Kentucky League of Women Voters, the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches, and the Louisville Urban League
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/27/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:20−cv−00375−CRS (W.D. Ky.)
VR-KY-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-KY-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Albert Benjamin Chandler, III Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint [ECF# 19 & 19-1]
VR-KY-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer of Michael Adams, in his Official Capacity as the Secretary of State of Kentucky [ECF# 20]
VR-KY-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 30]
VR-KY-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Simpson, Charles Ralph III (W.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cepeda Derieux, Adriel I. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0001 | VR-KY-0009-0004 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Chabria, Natasha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Cherry, Ceridwen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Fram, Robert D. (California) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0001 | VR-KY-0009-0004 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Garfing, Scott J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Gatnarek, Heather L. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Hays, Mashayla R (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Ho, Dale E. (New York) show/hide docs
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Holman, Mary Elise (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Iaccarino, Carmine G (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Keenan, Megan C (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Kim, Sharon (New York) show/hide docs
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Lakin, Sophia L. (New York) show/hide docs
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Maddox, Victor B (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Manley, Marc (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Nolan, Brett Robert (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Ponder, Jayne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0004 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Rosenberg, Ezra (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Saini, Ajay (New York) show/hide docs
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Shapiro, Corey M (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Silletto, Aaron J. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Adams, Michael G (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0003 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Brown, Taylor A (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0002 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Buckner, La Tasha (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Bush, Bridget M (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Farris, Marc G (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Mayo, Steven T (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Morgan, Daniel L (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0002 | VR-KY-0009-9000
Payne, Taylor Allen (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Scutchfield, Jennifer S (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Tipton, Laura S (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Westberry, Kent R. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-9000
Wilson, Michael R (Kentucky) show/hide docs
VR-KY-0009-0003 | VR-KY-0009-9000

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