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Amicus Brief

Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee

In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two voting rights cases that threaten to weaken Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which helps ensure voters and communities of color have equal access to the ballot and political participation. The SPLC and others urged the court in an amicus brief to ensure that Section 2 remains a powerful tool against racial discrimination in elections.

The cases – Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee – focus on two Arizona voting laws. One of the laws allows a ballot to be thrown away if cast in the wrong precinct. The other law bans third parties from collecting and returning absentee ballots. The brief notes it is necessary to ensure Section 2 of the VRA can be used to “determine whether a particular electoral barrier crosses the line from a mere electoral rule into one that disproportionately and unjustifiably lessens minority voters’ opportunity to participate equally in the political process.”

It also noted the need for a provision, such as Section 2, given the changing nature of voter suppression tactics. “While some discriminatory practices have been abandoned, the last decade has witnessed many jurisdictions placing new hurdles in front of the ballot box: hampering voter registration, limiting early and absentee voting, closing poll locations, purging voters from the rolls, and imposing strict voter-identification requirements,” the brief notes. “And it is reasonable to expect that such restrictions are likely to increase in quantity and severity in the future, amidst a litany of unsubstantiated but oft-repeated claims of voter fraud.”

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of Arizona.