Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill
In 2011, Alabama lawmakers approved a law requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot in the state. Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging the law as discriminatory, noting it targeted Black and Latinx voters who disproportionately lack such identification. After a federal judge’s dismissal of the case in 2018 was appealed by the advocacy groups, the SPLC filed an amicus brief on behalf of Alabama advocacy groups including the League of Women Voters of Alabama, Adelante Alabama Worker Center, Alabama ARISE, Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama, and Montgomery PRIDE United in support of plaintiffs.
The brief noted the district court ignored Alabama’s long, violent history of disenfranchising people of color and – contrary to the court’s summary judgment – it is not “so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, that no one is prevented from voting.”
The brief also highlighted the court’s failure to recognize the “growing body of social science research demonstrating that low-income voters, voters who lack access to transportation, voters experiencing homelessness, voters with felony convictions, and transgender voters—all of whom are disproportionately Black in Alabama—face significant barriers to obtaining a photo ID and using it to vote once obtained.”
In July 2020, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal. An en banc hearing – a hearing before the entire panel of judges for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – has since been requested.