Case: NAACP v. Lee

3:20-cv-01039 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee

Filed Date: Dec. 3, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This class action lawsuit, filed by the NAACP and several individual plaintiffs on December 3, 2020, challenged Tennessee's statutory scheme for people convicted of felonies to have their voting rights restored. Plaintiffs alleged that Tennessee’s voting rights restoration scheme was, at best, error-ridden and confusing, and at worse, discriminatory against indigent applicants. For example, plaintiffs alleged that at least one county (Rutherford) charged a fee for production of the Certificate …

This class action lawsuit, filed by the NAACP and several individual plaintiffs on December 3, 2020, challenged Tennessee's statutory scheme for people convicted of felonies to have their voting rights restored. Plaintiffs alleged that Tennessee’s voting rights restoration scheme was, at best, error-ridden and confusing, and at worse, discriminatory against indigent applicants. For example, plaintiffs alleged that at least one county (Rutherford) charged a fee for production of the Certificate of Restoration (COR). Plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the statutory scheme violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving plaintiffs of their fundamental right to vote, and also alleged that the fees imposed a poll tax in violation of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment. Further, plaintiffs asserted violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The case was assigned to District Judge William L. Campbell, Jr of Tennessee's Middle District.

The plaintiffs sought to represent a class of Tennessee residents convicted of felonies who had completed their sentence, believed that they satisfied all other requirements to restore their voting rights under Tennessee, and had requested or planned to request a COR. They sought a permanent injunction requiring improvements to the voter restoration process and eliminating administrative fees for COR applicants.

On March 22, 2021, Judge Campbell signed a stipulated consent decree partially resolving the dispute. Rutherford county, the only county identified by the plaintiffs that charged administrative fees for CORs, would no longer charge such fees. The parties agreed to cover their own fees as it related to this issue.

This case is ongoing as of November 9, 2021.

Summary Authors

Jordan Katz (11/9/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/18713658/parties/tennessee-conference-of-the-national-association-for-the-advancement-of/


Judge(s)

Campbell, William Lynn Jr. (Tennessee)

Frensley, Jeffrey S (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baker, Natasha (District of Columbia)

Bowie, Blair S. (District of Columbia)

Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia)

Grant, Charles K. (Tennessee)

Haynes, Keeda (Tennessee)

Huling, Alice C.C. (District of Columbia)

Lang, Danielle (District of Columbia)

Mulji, Aseem (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Campbell, William Lynn Jr. (Tennessee)

Frensley, Jeffrey S (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baker, Natasha (District of Columbia)

Bowie, Blair S. (District of Columbia)

Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia)

Grant, Charles K. (Tennessee)

Haynes, Keeda (Tennessee)

Huling, Alice C.C. (District of Columbia)

Lang, Danielle (District of Columbia)

Mulji, Aseem (District of Columbia)

Paikowsky, Dana (District of Columbia)

Telfeyan, Phil (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Christiansen, Nicholas Clinton (Tennessee)

Kleinfelter, Janet M. (Tennessee)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Tennessee Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Lee

Sept. 15, 2021 Docket
1 & 1-1 to 1-3

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Tennessee Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Lee

Dec. 3, 2020 Complaint
61

Consent Decree and Judgment Regarding Claim Against Defendant Melissa Harrell

Tennessee Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Lee

March 22, 2021 Order/Opinion
61

Consent Decree and Judgment Regarding Claim Against Defendant Melissa Harrell

Tennessee Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Lee

March 22, 2021 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

TN NAACP v. Lee

Equal Justice Under Law

Under current law, Tennessee automatically strips anyone convicted of a felony of the right to vote. The result of this policy is that more than 9% of the total voting age population of Tennessee — a… Dec. 3, 2020 https://equaljusticeunderlaw.org/tnnaacpvlee

TN NAACP v. Lee

Equal Justice Under Law

Equal Justice Under Law is suing Tennessee Governor William Lee and other state officials to restore the right to vote for more than 451,000 Tennesseans with felony records. Dec. 3, 2020 https://equaljusticeunderlaw.org/tnnaacpvlee

TN NAACP v. Lee

Campaign Legal Center

Tennessee disenfranchises more than 451,000 of its residents for past felony convictions, about 9.1% of its total voting age population. These individuals remain unable to vote for life unless they a… April 13, 2021 https://campaignlegal.org/cases-actions/tn-naacp-v-lee

TN NAACP v. Lee

Campaign Legal Center

Tennessee disenfranchises more than 451,000 of its residents for past felony convictions, about 9.1% of its total voting age population. These individuals remain unable to vote for life unless they a… April 13, 2021 https://campaignlegal.org/cases-actions/tn-naacp-v-lee

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/18713658/tennessee-conference-of-the-national-association-for-the-advancement-of/

Last updated May 12, 2022

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 3, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Tennessee residents convicted of felonies other than those resulting in permanent disenfranchisement; have completed their sentence; and believe that they satisfy all other requirements to restore their voting rights under Tennessee law; and have requested or will request a COR from the pardoning or supervising authority.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Equal Justice Under Law

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Pending

Defendants

Commisioner (Nashville, Davidson), State

Coordinator of Elections (Nashville, Davidson), State

Secretary of State (Nashville, Davidson), State

Governor (Nashville, Davidson), State

County Clerk of Circuit Court (Murfreesboro, Rutherford), County

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

National Voter Registration Act ("Motor Voter law"), 52 U.S.C. § 20501 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg)

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Issues

General:

Record-keeping

Voting

Voting access

Voting:

Voter qualifications

Voter registration rules