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Case Name Clark v. Edwards VR-LA-0120
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00308 ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This suit was brought on May 19, 2020, by two non-profit organizations and three voter plaintiffs against the state of Louisiana to challenge Louisiana’s Excuse Requirement, Witness Requirement, and Cure Prohibition. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This suit was brought on May 19, 2020, by two non-profit organizations and three voter plaintiffs against the state of Louisiana to challenge Louisiana’s Excuse Requirement, Witness Requirement, and Cure Prohibition. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the Excuse and Witness Requirement, as well as provide absentee voters with notice and opportunity to cure defects in their absentee ballots for all elections in 2020 held in Louisiana. On June 22, the court dismissed the case.


On May 19, 2020, two non-profit organizations and three individual voters brought suit against the state of Louisiana to challenge its election laws. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private attorneys, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02 and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 52 U.S.C. § 10301, alleging that the requirement violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the Excuse and Witness Requirement, as well as provide absentee voters with notice and opportunity to cure defects in their absentee ballots for all elections in 2020 held in Louisiana. The plaintiffs also sought attorney fees. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, and was assigned to Chief Judge Shelley D. Dick.

On April 15, the Secretary of State proposed an emergency election plan expanding the category of excuses needed to request an absentee ballot and waiving the Witness Requirement for the July and August elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed plan was rejected by the Louisiana Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. On April 20, the Secretary of State presented a revised emergency election plan, which did not waive the Witness Requirement and presented fewer categories to fulfill the Excuse Requirement, which was approved. The plaintiffs noted that there was no emergency action plan in place for the November and December elections and that even with the plan in place, the narrow category of excuses and the need for a witness forced voters to choose between exercising their right to vote and potentially endangering themselves. Therefore, the plaintiffs alleged that Louisiana’s Excuse Requirement and Witness Requirement imposed undue burdens on the fundamental right to vote, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs also challenged the lack of notice and opportunity to cure defects with mail-in votes. The plaintiffs alleged that the “Cure Prohibition” violated the Fourteenth Amendment by denying certain populations the right to due process. The plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on May 29.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, Power Coalition v. Edwards, its plaintiffs also filed a suit to challenge the Excuse Requirement, Witness Requirement, and the Cure Prohibition. Power Coalition v. Edwards and Clark v. Edwards were consolidated on June 3.

On June 5, the State of Louisiana filed a motion to intervene as defendants, which was granted on June 8. The same day, they filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had not adequately alleged state action. The defendants also claimed that because of the proximity of the election, there should not be last-minute electoral meddling. On June 15, the defendants filed a joint motion to amend, which was denied on June 17. The same day, the plaintiffs amended the complaint to remove the Parish Registrars of Voters as defendants.

On June 22, the court granted the motion to dismiss and all claims against the defendants were dismissed with prejudice. 2020 WL 3415376. The court found that the plaintiffs’ claims did not adequately allege an injury in fact sufficient to give rise to standing, because the demonstrated injury was not traceable to state action. The hearing scheduled for the preliminary injunction was accordingly canceled. On June 25, the plaintiffs filed a motion to amend the judgment to dismiss their claims without prejudice, which was granted on June 30.

Averyn Lee - 08/02/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting
Voting access
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Denied
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Voting Rights Act, section 2, 52 U.S.C. § 10301 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973)
Defendant(s) Governor of Louisiana
Attorney General of the State of Louisiana
Parish Board of Election Supervisors
Secretary of State of Louisiana
Plaintiff Description Three voters, Crescent City Media Group, and League of Women Voters Louisiana
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 05/19/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:20-cv-00308-SDD-RLB (M.D. La.)
VR-LA-0120-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1 (incl. 1-1 to 1-6)]
VR-LA-0120-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Leave to File a Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Excess of the Page Limit [ECF# 16 (incl. 16-1 to 16-14)]
VR-LA-0120-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 22 (incl. 22-1 to 22-13)]
VR-LA-0120-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The State of Louisianas' Unopposed Motion to Intervene [ECF# 24 (incl. 24-1 to 24-6)]
VR-LA-0120-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant-Intervenor the State of Louisiana's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint [ECF# 29 (incl. 29-1 to 29-3)]
VR-LA-0120-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Registrar of Voters Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(7) [ECF# 31 (incl. 31-1 to 31-11)]
VR-LA-0120-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Attorney General Jeff Landry's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint [ECF# 35, 35-1, 35-2]
VR-LA-0120-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Joint Memorandum in Opposition to Jurisdictional Arguments in State's and Parish Registrars of Voters' Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 36 (incl. 36-1 to 36-3)]
VR-LA-0120-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Reply on Behalf of the Registrars of Voters [ECF# 37]
VR-LA-0120-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Attorney General Jeff Landry's and the State of Louisiana's Reply to Plaintiffs' Joint Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 38]
VR-LA-0120-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Clark Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Jurisdictional Arguments in Attorney General Landry's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 39]
VR-LA-0120-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Clark Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint [ECF# 47]
VR-LA-0120-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Power Coalition Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint [ECF# 49]
VR-LA-0120-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 70] (M.D. La.)
VR-LA-0120-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Clark Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend Judgment [ECF# 72, 72-1, 72-2]
VR-LA-0120-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 74] (M.D. La.)
VR-LA-0120-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bourgeois, Richard L. (M.D. La.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-9000
Dick, Shelly Deckert (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0014 | VR-LA-0120-0016 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abudu, Nancy G. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Aguilera, Cecilia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Cohen, Michelle Kanter (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Davis, Danielle E (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Fram, Robert D. (California) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Fraser, John A. III (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013
Freedman, John A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Gonzalez, Joshua (California) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Lewis, Morgan (California) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Meza, Catherine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Morris, John Z (New York) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Sherman, Jonathan Lee (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Short, Caren Elaine (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0001 | VR-LA-0120-0002 | VR-LA-0120-0003 | VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0011 | VR-LA-0120-0012 | VR-LA-0120-0015 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Wilson, Ronald L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0008 | VR-LA-0120-0013 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Block, Matthew F (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-9000
Cangelosi, Celia R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-9000
Freel, Angelique Duhon (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0004 | VR-LA-0120-0005 | VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0010 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Gordon, Philip M. (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0004 | VR-LA-0120-0005 | VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0010 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Holt, Dallin B (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0010 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Jones, Carey T. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0006 | VR-LA-0120-0009 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Landry, Jeff (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0006 | VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0009 | VR-LA-0120-0010
Lienhard, Jonathan (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0010 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Smith, David Jeddie Jr (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0006 | VR-LA-0120-0009 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Torchinsky, Jason Brett (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0004 | VR-LA-0120-0005 | VR-LA-0120-0007 | VR-LA-0120-0010 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Wale, Jeffrey Michael (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0006 | VR-LA-0120-0009 | VR-LA-0120-9000
Walsh, John Charles (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-9000
Wheeler, Alicia Edmond (Louisiana) show/hide docs
VR-LA-0120-0006 | VR-LA-0120-0009 | VR-LA-0120-9000

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