House Administration Committee Democrats Statement on Brakebill v. Jaeger

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.)  Committee on House Administration Democrats Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court refused to intervene this week in an emergency challenge to a North Dakota voter ID law that will effectively deny thousands of Native Americans their right to vote in the upcoming general election:

“By refusing to hear the Native American Rights Fund’s plea to protect the franchise of so many North Dakotans, this Supreme Court has demonstrated that it lacks the interest to defend some of the nation’s most marginalized voters—the very groups that the Voting Rights Act was designed to protect. Moreover, when the Court gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder, it left historically marginalized groups vulnerable to exactly this sort of facially neutral, patently noxious legislation.

“As noted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent, this law could deny 70,000 North Dakotans their right to vote and could confuse countless voters just before an important general election.

“This Republican-led strategy of disenfranchising voters to maintain power is anathema to democratic principles. A Representative should earn their seat by listening to, and faithfully representing, their constituents, not silencing them.

“A Democratic majority in the House of Representatives next year will work diligently to re-establish key provisions of the Voting Rights Act and put these blatantly discriminatory attempts to rob minority groups of their voting voice right back where they belong—firmly in the past. We must ensure that every vote counts, and every eligible voter is able to exercise their right to vote, regardless of skin color or place of residence.”

Background:

The law in question requires voters to present identification with a “current residential street address.” This provision does great harm to North Dakota’s sizeable Native American and rural populations, whose lack of residential street addresses leave them unable to meet the state law’s requirement—even if they are otherwise eligible to vote.

A lower court originally blocked the new requirements as unconstitutional in April, aware that many Native Americans in North Dakota live on reservations lacking residential addresses, that tribal IDs often don’t list such addresses, and that Native Americans are more disproportionately homeless.  The Supreme Court’s action this week will allow the voter ID law to go into effect and disenfranchise as many as tens of thousands of Native American voters immediately prior to the general election.

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