Attorney General

Justice Department changes position, supports Ohio in voter purge case

  • Print


The U.S. Justice Department has switched its position in a pending Supreme Court case considering the legality of a purge of inactive Ohio voters.

The Obama administration had filed an amicus brief in a federal appeals court that sided with groups claiming the purge violates the National Voter Registration Act. But the Justice Department filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that says the purge is legal, report the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Courthouse News Service.

The Supreme Court granted cert in May. The new amicus brief says the Justice Department reconsidered the issue after a change in administrations and has now concluded Ohio’s practice is legal.

Under the Ohio process, voters who haven’t cast a ballot in two years get a notice from the state asking them to verify they are eligible to vote. Those who don’t respond and then don’t vote in the next four years are kicked off the rolls.

The new brief (PDF) was not signed by career lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

According to the Times, the division “has been at the center of culture-war fighting in recent decades when Republican and Democratic administrations take over from each other.”

Recently the Justice Department argued that the federal job bias law doesn’t cover workers claiming employment bias based on sexual orientation, a switch in position from the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

The voting case is Husted v. Phillip Randolph Institute.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.