Case: Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

12-00330 | Pennsylvania state trial court

Filed Date: 2012

Closed Date: 2014

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In March 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 18, also known as the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law. The law required presentation of a photo identification card for most registered voters to cast a ballot. It also stated that the primary form of identification required was a Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver's license or the non-driver equivalent. It provided that these identification cards would be provided "at no cost" if the applicant declared under oath that he or she lack…

In March 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 18, also known as the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law. The law required presentation of a photo identification card for most registered voters to cast a ballot. It also stated that the primary form of identification required was a Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver's license or the non-driver equivalent. It provided that these identification cards would be provided "at no cost" if the applicant declared under oath that he or she lacked identification and needed it for voting purposes.

On May 1, 2012, a group of registered voters and advocacy organizations filed suit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the governor, and the Commonwealth's secretary, alleging that the Voter ID Law violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. Specifically, the petitioners claimed that the Voter ID Law severely burdened the right of many qualified voters to vote, violating the due process, equal protection, and voter qualification provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Petitioners sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

On August 15, 2012, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (Judge Robert Simpson) denied the preliminary injunction. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a per curium decision vacating the denial of the preliminary injunction. The court found that the Commonwealth Court made a predicative judgment that remedial efforts to compensate for the strain of obtaining PennDOT identification cards, such as efforts to educate the voting public, would be sufficient to forestall the possibility of voter disenfranchisement. Finding such a predicative judgment insufficient, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded the case. It directed the trial court to reassess the need for a preliminary injunction, and in particular, to examine the "actual availability of the alternative identification cards."

On October 2, 2012, the Commonwealth Court (Judge Simpson) issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Commonwealth from requiring identification for the provisional ballot part of the in-person voting process in the November 2012 general election. The trial court found that the Commonwealth had failed to assuage doubts about implementation of the law, which was likely to disenfranchise some voters. The preliminary injunction did not preclude the Commonwealth from engaging in other transition procedures, such as providing additional education to those not showing proof of identification for in-person voting. Trial on the permanent injunction was scheduled for July 2013.

On October 19, 2012, the petitioners filed a petition for supplemental injunction to enforce the court's October 2 order. Petitioners sought to enjoin respondents from disseminating false information about the need for photo ID on Election Day and to require respondents to remediate misinformation on the matter. On November 1, 2012, the court (Judge Simpson) denied the motion.

Because the trial on the permanent injunction could not be held prior to primary elections in May 2013, the parties agreed to extend the preliminary injunction. In August 2013, the court (Judge Bernard McGinley) again extended the preliminary injunction through the November 2013 elections. On January 17, 2014, the court (Judge McGinley) granted petitioner's request for permanent injunctive and declaratory relief, finding that the Voter ID Law threatened to disenfranchise "hundreds of thousands" of registered voters, in spite of the Commonwealth's efforts to educate voters and provide compliant IDs. Petitioners' request for attorney's fees was denied.

Respondents' application for argument before an en banc panel was subsequently denied. On May 8, 2014, Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett announced that the Commonwealth would not appeal.

Summary Authors

Priyah Kaul (2/9/2015)

People


Judge(s)

McCaffery, Seamus P. (Pennsylvania)

McGinley, Bernard L. (Pennsylvania)

Simpson, Robert (Pennsylvania)

Todd, Debra McCloskey (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bernstein, Daniel (New York)

Clarke, Jennifer R. (Pennsylvania)

Dumouchel, Kate (District of Columbia)

Freedman, John A. (District of Columbia)

Gersch, David P. (District of Columbia)

Hewett, Dawn Yamane (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

McCaffery, Seamus P. (Pennsylvania)

McGinley, Bernard L. (Pennsylvania)

Simpson, Robert (Pennsylvania)

Todd, Debra McCloskey (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bernstein, Daniel (New York)

Clarke, Jennifer R. (Pennsylvania)

Dumouchel, Kate (District of Columbia)

Freedman, John A. (District of Columbia)

Gersch, David P. (District of Columbia)

Hewett, Dawn Yamane (District of Columbia)

Korkor, Bassel C. (District of Columbia)

Moore, Whitney (District of Columbia)

Patterson, Donna (District of Columbia)

Rubin, Michael (District of Columbia)

Schneider, Marian K. (District of Columbia)

Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cawley, Patrick S. (Pennsylvania)

Hickok, Alicia D. (Pennsylvania)

Knorr, John G. III (Pennsylvania)

Koons, Calvin R. (Pennsylvania)

Putnam, Alfred W. Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Feb. 17, 2014 Docket

Petition for Review Addressed to the Court's Original Jurisdiction

May 1, 2012 Complaint

Memorandum Opinion

Pennsylvania state appellate court

2012 WL 3332376

Aug. 15, 2012 Order/Opinion

Order

Pennsylvania state supreme court

54 A.3d 1

Sept. 18, 2012 Order/Opinion

Dissenting Statement

Pennsylvania state supreme court

54 A.3d 1

Sept. 18, 2012 Order/Opinion

Dissenting Statement

Pennsylvania state supreme court

54 A.3d 1

Sept. 18, 2012 Order/Opinion

Supplemental Determination on Application for Preliminary Injunction

2012 WL 4497211

Oct. 2, 2012 Order/Opinion

Determination on Renewed Application for Preliminary Injunction

Aug. 16, 2013 Order/Opinion

Determination on Declaratory Relief and Permanent Injunction

2014 WL 184988

Jan. 17, 2014 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Applewhite, et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al.

ACLU Pennsylvania

On May 1, 2012, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit in t… May 8, 2014 https://www.aclupa.org/en/cases/applewhite-et-al-v-commonwealth-pennsylvania-et-al

Voter ID: Applewhite v. Commonwealth

The Public Interest Law Center

In 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law requiring everyone to present certain types of photo ID before voting – a requirement that could have disenfranchised many people who cannot obtain … May 8, 2014 https://www.pubintlaw.org/cases-and-projects/applewhite-v-commonwealth/

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2012

Closing Date: 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Individual plaintiffs said that they lacked an acceptable form of photo ID and will thus be disenfranchised or severely burdened by the requirements of Pennsylvania's Act 18 in the next election. Organizational plaintiffs said that they may have members whose right to vote is impermissibly burdened by the act. They also say that they have had to spend significant resources educating their members about the new law.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Advancement Project

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Law Center (PILCOP)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Right to travel

Equal Protection

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting:

Election administration

Voter ID

Voter qualifications