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U.S. District Court Jettisons PA Freedom Caucus Lawsuit re: Automatic Voter Registration

U.S. Middle District courthouse

In a 27-page ruling handed down on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Jennifer P. Wilson dismissed a complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus that challenged Gov. Josh Shapiro’s authority to implement automatic voter registration.

Wilson, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, concluded that the “plaintiffs do not have standing to assert the institutional injuries they raise here. Plaintiffs argue they have been granted an “individual” right in the Electors and Elections Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, but binding precedent obligates this court to reject this argument. The injuries that Plaintiffs allege are suffered equally by each Pennsylvania legislator. As such, Plaintiffs have not alleged any individualized and particularized harm. Accordingly, Plaintiffs do not have standing to pursue their challenges to the executive actions at issue in this lawsuit, and their amended complaint is dismissed.”

“In 2020, I defeated Donald Trump and his conspiracy theorist allies in court more than 40 times to defend Pennsylvanians’ votes and protect access to the ballot box,” said Shapiro in response to the ruling. “Today, we’ve done it again by getting their frivolous effort to stop automatic voter registration in our Commonwealth dismissed. Automatic voter registration is safe, secure, efficient, and entirely within my Administration’s authority.

“As Governor, I will always remain focused on protecting our democracy and ensuring our elections are free, fair, safe, and secure. Let today’s ruling be another reminder that taking legal advice from Donald Trump is never a winning strategy.”

The lawsuit was filed by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York) on behalf of the Freedom Caucus, a group of 27 Republican lawmakers that includes Reps. Tim Bonner (R-Butler/Mercer), Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks), Barbara Gleim (R-Cumberland), Joe Hamm (R-Lycoming), Wendy Fink (R-York), Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), Stephanie Borowicz (R-Centre/Clinton/ Union), Bud Cook (R-Fayette/Greene/Washington), Mike Jones (R-York), Joe D’Orsie (R-York), Charity Krupa (R-Fayette), Leslie Rossi (R-Westmoreland/Somerset), David Zimmerman (R-Berks/ Lancaster), Robert Leadbeter (R-Columbia), Dan Moul (R-Adams), Thomas Jones (R-Lancaster/Dauphin), David Maloney (R-Berks), Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill), David Rowe (R-Juniata/ Mifflin/ Snyder/Union), Joanne Stehr (R-Northumberland/Columbia/ Montour), Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/ Lawrence), Kathy Rapp (R-Crawford/Forest/Warren), and Sen. Cris Dush (R-Cameron/Centre/ Clinton/Elk/Jefferson/McKean/Potter).

“State legislators have rights granted to them in the Constitution,  so we do have standing in federal court. The irreparable harm is that they are changing the way elections are being facilitated,” Keefer told The Daily Signal prior to the ruling. “Now, we may have authorized them to take action. We never authorized them to break the law.”

Stewart Whitson, legal director of the Foundation for Government Accountability, had said in a widely distributed email that the Pennsylvania lawmakers’ case arguably is “the MOST important election integrity lawsuit in the country.”

In September, Shapiro announced that Pennsylvania was implementing automatic voter registration for eligible Commonwealth residents obtaining driver licenses and ID cards at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver and photo license centers.

The plaintiffs argued that through his edict, Shapiro directed PennDOT to disregard existing Pennsylvania law requiring an opt-in for voter registration applications – an abusive and capricious exercise of executive power which usurps the function of the Pennsylvania legislature.

Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that do not require identification to vote. The complaint read that “More problematic is the fact that Pennsylvania does not require verification of identity, eligibility, or residency to register to vote. The reason for this is that the verification requirements, put into place by the duly elected state legislators, were removed via an unlawful directive from the Department of State.”

Automatic Voter Registration is, in fact, authorized by both federal and state law. The federal National Voter Registration Act and the state Elections and Voter Registration Act require PennDOT to provide for simultaneous voter registration as part of applying for a driver’s license or photo ID. The General Assembly has given the Secretaries of the Commonwealth and Transportation broad authority to implement this requirement, which specifically includes the authority to determine the form of the combined driver’s license and voter registration form.

3 Responses

  1. These people need to STOP suppressing the vote! Are they ALL white supremacist fascists? Or only some of them? All White.
    Thanks for printing the list – Imma copy & paste it and keep it for future reference, under the file name DumbestPeopleInHarrisburg.pdf.

  2. It’s not correct to say, “Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that do not require identification to vote.” In order “to vote” in Pennsylvania, you must provide identifying information when you complete your registration and every time you vote by mail, and you must provide voter ID the first time you vote in person at a polling place. Given the amount of disinformation out there intent on undermining our elections, it is more important than ever to be precise in your reporting and ensure you are making accurate and factual statements about voting and election processes.

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