Case: Mays v. Thurston

4:20-cv-00341 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas

Filed Date: March 26, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to waive Arkansas’ Election Day Receipt deadline for the March runoff elections in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a temporary restraining order. On March 30, the emergency TRO was denied. On March 31, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. On March 26, 2020, the Christian Ministerial Alliance and two voters filed a suit against the Governor and Secretary of State of Arkansas agains…

COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to waive Arkansas’ Election Day Receipt deadline for the March runoff elections in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a temporary restraining order. On March 30, the emergency TRO was denied. On March 31, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.


On March 26, 2020, the Christian Ministerial Alliance and two voters filed a suit against the Governor and Secretary of State of Arkansas against the Election Day receipt deadline. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the plaintiffs sought declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02 and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 52 U.S.C. § 10301 enjoining the Election Day Receipt deadline. The plaintiffs alleged that the deadline posed significant risks for voters in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment, as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The following day, the plaintiffs also submitted an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to accept ballots that are postmarked before or on election day that arrives within 10 days of election day. The case was assigned to Judge James M Mood Jr. and the plaintiffs were represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

On March 20, the Governor of Arkansas issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency, suspending the prerequisites required to vote through an absentee ballot for the 2020 elections. Specifically, the March 24 deadline for absentee ballot applications to be submitted by email, fax, or mail was waived. However, the requirement that election officials receive absentee ballots by 7:30 PM on Election Day, or the Election Day Receipt deadline was not suspended. The plaintiffs alleged that the Executive Order loosening the absentee ballot requirement was insufficient to protect the fundamental right to vote for the March runoff elections, as the restrictions continued to pose a direct and severe obstacle to absentee voting. Further, the plaintiffs noted that barriers to voting disproportionately impacted Black voters, given the history of discrimination against Black people and socioeconomic disparity in Arkansas.

On March 30, the defendants filed a response to the motion for TRO. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing and the injury was not caused by the defendants, and even if the state had burdened the plaintiffs’ right to vote, the defendants had compelling interests to justify their actions.

On the same day, the emergency TRO was denied. 2020 WL 1531359. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to articulate the injury suffered by the defendant and that the plaintiffs’ right to vote had already been made easier through the March 20 Executive Order. The same day, the Republican Party of Arkansas moved to intervene as defendants.

On March 31, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.

Summary Authors

Averyn Lee (7/4/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17026220/parties/mays-v-thurston/


Judge(s)

Moody, James Maxwell Jr. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aden, Leah C. (New York)

Ifill, Sherrilyn (New York)

Ross, Deuel (New York)

Shukur, Omavi (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Rutledge, Leslie (Arkansas)

Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Cooper, William S (Arkansas)

Judge(s)

Moody, James Maxwell Jr. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aden, Leah C. (New York)

Ifill, Sherrilyn (New York)

Ross, Deuel (New York)

Shukur, Omavi (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Rutledge, Leslie (Arkansas)

Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Cooper, William S (Arkansas)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

March 31, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint

March 26, 2020 Complaint
2, 2-1, 3 (incl. 3-1 to 3-16)

Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction

March 27, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief
8, 8-1, 8-2

Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order

March 30, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief
11

Order

2020 WL 1531359

March 30, 2020 Order/Opinion
9 (incl. 9-1 to 9-5)

Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction

March 30, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17026220/mays-v-thurston/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Defendants filed by Johnny Smith, Jr, The Christian Ministerial Alliance, Debra Mays. Fee $400 received. Receipt Number LIT076594.No summons issued. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(bmd) (Entered: 03/27/2020)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

March 26, 2020 RECAP
2

Emergency MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction by Debra Mays, Johnny Smith, Jr, The Christian Ministerial Alliance (Attachments: # 1 Document - Proposed Order)(Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/27/2020)

March 27, 2020 PACER

Summons Issued as to All Defendants and returned to counsel for service. (bmd)

March 27, 2020 PACER
3

BRIEF IN SUPPORT re 2 Motion for TRO filed by All Plaintiffs. (Attachments: # 1 Ross Declaration, # 2 Ex 1, # 3 Ex 2, # 4 Ex 3, # 5 Ex 4, # 6 Ex 5, # 7 Ex 6, # 8 Ex 7, # 9 Ex 8, # 10 Ex 9, # 11 Ex 10, # 12 Ex 11, # 13 Ex 12 Cooper Decl, # 14 Ex 12 A, # 15 Ex 12 B, # 16 Ex 12 C, # 17 Ex 12 D)(Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/27/2020)

March 27, 2020 PACER
4

WAIVER OF SERVICE Returned Executed as to Asa Hutchinson by Johnny Smith, Jr, Debra Mays, Christian Ministerial Alliance. (Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/29/2020)

March 29, 2020 PACER
5

MOTION for Leave to Appear pro hac vice by Deuel Ross. Fee $100 receipt number AAREDC-3672308. Filed by All Plaintiffs (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Declaration of Deuel Ross)(Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/29/2020)

March 29, 2020 PACER
6

WAIVER OF SERVICE Returned Executed as to John Thurston by Johnny Smith, Jr, Debra Mays, Christian Ministerial Alliance. (Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/29/2020)

March 29, 2020 PACER
7

NOTICE of Appearance by Vincent Moore Wagner on behalf of Asa Hutchinson, John Thurston (Wagner, Vincent) (Entered: 03/30/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
8

RESPONSE in Opposition re 2 Emergency MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction filed by All Defendants. (Attachments: # 1 Order Denying TRO Motion, Williams v. DeSantis, No. 1:20-cv-00067 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 17, 2020), DE 12, # 2 Order Denying Renewed TRO Motion, Williams v. DeSantis, No. 1:20-cv-00067 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 18, 2020), DE 18)(Wagner, Vincent) (Entered: 03/30/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
9

REPLY to Response to Motion re 2 Emergency MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction filed by All Plaintiffs. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Deuel Ross, # 2 Ex 13, # 3 Ex 14, # 4 Ex 15, # 5 Ex 16)(Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/30/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
10

MOTION for Leave to Appear pro hac vice by Leah C. Aden. Fee $100 receipt number AAREDC-3673175. Filed by Christian Ministerial Alliance, Debra Mays, Johnny Smith, Jr (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit of Leah C. Aden)(Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/30/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
11

ORDER denying 2 Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injuction. Signed by Judge James M. Moody Jr. on 3/30/2020. (thd) (Entered: 03/30/2020)

March 30, 2020 RECAP
12

PROPOSED Intervenor-Defendants' MOTION to Intervene by Republican Party of Arkansas, Doyle Webb (jap) (Entered: 03/31/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
13

PROPOSED Intervenor-Defendants' BRIEF IN SUPPORT re 12 Motion to Intervene filed by Republican Party of Arkansas, Doyle Webb. (jap) (Entered: 03/31/2020)

March 30, 2020 PACER
14

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Christian Ministerial Alliance, Debra Mays (Shukur, Omavi) (Entered: 03/31/2020)

March 31, 2020 PACER

State / Territory: Arkansas

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 26, 2020

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Two individual voters and a non-profit organization

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Governor of Arkansas, State

Secretary of State of Arkansas, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Voting Rights Act, section 2, 52 U.S.C. § 10301 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973)

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Procedural Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting access

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

COVID-19:

Mitigation Denied

Mitigation Requested

Voting:

Election administration

Voter qualifications

Voter registration rules