AG drops Voting Rights Act lawsuit, plans to re-file
Published: April 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office asked a federal court to dismiss its lawsuit against a provision of the Voting Rights Act, saying it doesn’t have the resources to fight an expensive court battle.
The U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit on April 10 at the request of Solicitor General David Cole, who was handling the case for the Attorney General’s Office. Cole said the office cannot spare the personnel or money right now that it would take to pursue the case, which would be heard in Washington, not Phoenix.
“It takes money and a lot of personnel to represent the state in an action of that nature, and we’re just unable to do it at the time,” Cole said.
Cole said the office plans to re-file the case, but isn’t sure when. He said mid-June would be the absolute earliest the case could be re-filed.
The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires a handful of states and other jurisdictions, including Arizona, to get approval, or “pre-clearance,” from the U.S. Department of Justice for all changes to voting and election laws. Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit last year, argued that Section 5 is unconstitutional, and that it was unfairly applied to Arizona.
Other court cases could render the re-filing of Arizona’s lawsuit moot. Shelby County, Ala., is fighting a similar challenge to Section 5. That case began before Horne’s lawsuit and has moved further along through the legal process. Kinston, N.C. has also filed suit against the law.
Cole said the other challenges to Section 5 are different from Arizona’s, and said he planned to re-file Arizona’s lawsuit regardless of what happened in the other court cases.