Tags: Voting Rights | marc elias | super lawyer | george soros | voting laws

Soros Backs Democratic 'Super Lawyer' in Voting Rights Cases

Image: Soros Backs Democratic 'Super Lawyer' in Voting Rights Cases

Marc Elias (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 Aug 2016 10:55 AM

A Democratic "super lawyer" has $5 million in backing from liberal mega-donor George Soros for a controversially partisan effort to challenge state elections laws, the Washington Post reports

Marc Elias, who's gone to bat for Democrats in recount fights and redistricting battles, is challenging laws that he argues diminish the impact of important Democratic Party constituencies of African Americans, Latinos and young people — including states especially important for Hillary Clinton's campaign, like Ohio, Arizona, and Virginia, the Post reports.

The Post notes voting rights changes passed by GOP legislatures in 15 states — including Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota and Kansas, where the changes have been challenged — put new and stricter laws in place seeking to combat voter fraud.

But in the past month, judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans have ruled there's evidence the laws hinder minority participation in the process, the Post reports.

The legal battles are led by civil rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Advancement Project, and others.

But Elias's efforts that are explicitly on behalf of Democrats worries those groups, which aim for bipartisan support for voting rights, including strengthening the Voting Rights Act, the Post reports.

"I love Marc, but I want to be very clear about who we are and who he represents," civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill, president and general counsel of the NAACP LDF, tells the Post. "I don't want what we have been doing for years [protecting minority voting rights] to be dismissed as partisan."

She added, "I sued plenty of Democrats."

Elias responds the way to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act "is to make Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House and Chuck Schumer the [Senate] majority leader and put Hillary Clinton in the White House."

And he points to a string of victories as proof that his strategy is working.

"All I can tell you is we sued in Virginia and we got a consent decree on long lines" at the polls, he tells the Post.

"We sued in North Carolina and obviously that's worked out. We've sued in Wisconsin and we've won in the district court. We sued in Ohio and won before the district court and now have the argument in the 6th Circuit."

"So those who were concerned we were going to make bad law so far don't have much to point to. We've made a lot of good law."

According to the Post, Soros's spokesman Michael Vachon said Elias approached them with plans for challenging state restrictions that would be helpful "up and down the ballot."

"The other groups have to be nonpartisan," Vachon tells the Post. "We agreed there was a need to look at this from a partisan viewpoint."

Soros has given $5 million to the trust that funds the litigation, Vachon said, and Elias said he has picked his cases aiming to protect "the Obama coalition" of African Americans, Latinos and young people, the Post reports.

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A Democratic "super lawyer" has $5 million in backing from liberal mega-donor George Soros for a controversially partisan effort to challenge state elections laws, the Washington Post reports.
marc elias, super lawyer, george soros, voting laws
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2016-55-08
Monday, 08 Aug 2016 10:55 AM
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