Judge Richard J. Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia effectively struck down a voter intimidation lawsuit against US President Donald Trump on Thursday, denying jurisdiction over the claims.
Voting rights group Free Speech for People brought the suit against Trump on behalf Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. They sought a preliminary injunction restraining Trump from “continuing to engage in this unconstitutional and illegal intimidation.”
In the complaint filed last week, the plaintiffs alleged “President Donald J. Trump and his political appointees are trying to prevent a free and fair 2020 election by intimidating and threatening eligible voters who want to vote, support, and advocate on behalf of certain political candidates, and express their political beliefs.” Free Speech for People alleged violations of Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Section 2 of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In support of the claim, they cited Trump’s encouragement of “white supremacist groups with a history of violence to go to polling locations to serve as ‘poll watchers.'” They further cited Trump’s proposed a delay in the 202 general election, his publicly discrediting voting by mail, sabotaging the mail service and threatening to ban voting by mail.
Mi Familia Vota Executive Director and CEO Héctor Sánchez Barba responded to the ruling:
The evidence is overwhelming that court intervention here was necessary to stop this illegal voter intimidation by President Trump, Attorney General Barr, and Acting Secretary Wolf. Despite this ruling, we will remain vigilant in fighting to protect the right to vote and our democracy.
Citizens, states and voting rights groups across the US are engaged in legal battles over the upcoming presidential election. Check out JURIST’s election coverage here.