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Case Name NAACP v. Lee CJ-TN-0016
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-01039 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Election/Voting Rights
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Equal Justice Under Law
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Case Summary
This class action lawsuit, filed by the NAACP and several individual plaintiffs on December 3, 2020, challenged Tennessee's statutory scheme for people convicted of felonies to have their voting rights restored. Plaintiffs alleged that Tennessee’s voting rights restoration scheme was, at best, ... read more >
This class action lawsuit, filed by the NAACP and several individual plaintiffs on December 3, 2020, challenged Tennessee's statutory scheme for people convicted of felonies to have their voting rights restored. Plaintiffs alleged that Tennessee’s voting rights restoration scheme was, at best, error-ridden and confusing, and at worse, discriminatory against indigent applicants. For example, plaintiffs alleged that at least one county (Rutherford) charged a fee for production of the Certificate of Restoration (COR). Plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the statutory scheme violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving plaintiffs of their fundamental right to vote, and also alleged that the fees imposed a poll tax in violation of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment. Further, plaintiffs asserted violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The case was assigned to District Judge William L. Campbell, Jr of Tennessee's Middle District.

The plaintiffs sought to represent a class of Tennessee residents convicted of felonies who had completed their sentence, believed that they satisfied all other requirements to restore their voting rights under Tennessee, and had requested or planned to request a COR. They sought a permanent injunction requiring improvements to the voter restoration process and eliminating administrative fees for COR applicants.

On March 22, 2021, Judge Campbell signed a stipulated consent decree partially resolving the dispute. Rutherford county, the only county identified by the plaintiffs that charged administrative fees for CORs, would no longer charge such fees. The parties agreed to cover their own fees as it related to this issue.

This case is ongoing as of November 9, 2021.

Jordan Katz - 11/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Record-keeping
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
National Voter Registration Act ("Motor Voter law"), 52 U.S.C. § 20501 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg)
Defendant(s) Commisioner
Coordinator of Elections
County Clerk of Circuit Court
Governor
Secretary of State
Plaintiff Description Tennessee residents convicted of felonies other than those resulting in permanent disenfranchisement; have completed their sentence; and believe that they satisfy all other requirements to restore their voting rights under Tennessee law; and have requested or will request a COR from the pardoning or supervising authority.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Equal Justice Under Law
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 12/03/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  TN NAACP v. Lee
Campaign Legal Center 2021
Date: Apr. 13, 2021
By: Campaign Legal Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  TN NAACP v. Lee
Campaign Legal Center 2021
Date: Apr. 13, 2021
By: Campaign Legal Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  TN NAACP v. Lee
Equal Justice Under Law
Date: Dec. 3, 2020
By: Equal Justice Under Law
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  TN NAACP v. Lee
Equal Justice Under Law
Date: Dec. 3, 2020
By: Equal Justice Under Law
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
M.D. Tenn.
09/15/2021
3:20-cv-01039
CJ-TN-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. Tenn.
12/03/2020
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1 & 1-1 to 1-3]
CJ-TN-0016-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/22/2021
Consent Decree and Judgment Regarding Claim Against Defendant Melissa Harrell [ECF# 61]
CJ-TN-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/22/2021
Consent Decree and Judgment Regarding Claim Against Defendant Melissa Harrell [ECF# 61]
CJ-TN-0016-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Campbell, William Lynn Jr. (M.D. Tenn.) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0002 | CJ-TN-0016-0003 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Frensley, Jeffrey S Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baker, Natasha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Bowie, Blair S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Grant, Denmark J (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Grant, Charles K. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Haynes, Keeda (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Huling, Alice C.C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Lang, Danielle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Mulji, Aseem (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Paikowsky, Dana (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Telfeyan, Phil (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-0001 | CJ-TN-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Campbell, Andrew B. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Christiansen, Nicholas Clinton (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000
Kleinfelter, Janet M. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0016-9000

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