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Case Name The College Democrats at the University of Michigan v. Johnson VR-MI-0074
Docket / Court 3:18-cv-12722-RHC-SDD ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Case Summary
On August 30th, 2018, several student groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Plaintiffs sued the Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, and the Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, Sally Williams under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and §1988 for ... read more >
On August 30th, 2018, several student groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Plaintiffs sued the Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, and the Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, Sally Williams under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and §1988 for alleged constitutional violations of the First, Fourteenth, and Twenty-Sixth Amendments. The plaintiffs, represented by a combination of public interest and private attorneys, sought declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the State from enforcing Public Act 118, also known as Roger’s Law, which plaintiffs alleged put significant barriers in place for college aged students who wanted to vote. The case was assigned to District Judge Robert H. Cleland.

Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that Roger’s Law placed two major barriers in the way of students seeking to vote: Strict matching requirements and requirement that a person first vote in person. The strict matching requirement prohibited college students, who had their home address listed on state identification, from using said identification to register to vote in their college town. The in-person voting requirement prohibited college students, who would need to return to their permanent addresses to vote, from voting if they were far from home. Plaintiff claimed that these laws were driven to enactment by discriminatory intent, as shown through the explicit statement by the legislation’s drafter that he didn’t care if college-aged students couldn’t vote.

The complaint was later amended on September 7th, 2018, to add new plaintiffs, specifically more student groups.

On September 8th, 2018, a motion for preliminary injunction was filed, but stayed while the parties negotiated a potential settlement. Along with the motion, the plaintiffs filed an expert report from Stanford Political Science Professor Jonathan Rodden supporting their arguments. 2018 WL 10072776. On September 25, the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their preliminary injunction. They did this because of their preparations for the 2018 midterm elections, and the potential impact that the elections would have on the outcome of the case. Status updates were moved to January 9, 2019.

Status updates were further delayed as the Whitmer administration was sworn in and implemented policies that expanded access to vote-by-mail programs. The plaintiffs submitted a motion to voluntarily dismiss the case on June 5, 2019, perhaps because of progress toward the plaintiff's asks by the Whitmer administration. Judge Cleland dismissed the case on June 11; the case is closed.

Raul Noguera-McElroy - 02/15/2019
Ellen Aldin - 06/22/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
General
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Voter ID
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Ruth Johnson, State of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Student organizations who want to help students vote.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 08/30/2018
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mich.
06/11/2019
3:18-cv-12722
VR-MI-0074-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mich.
08/30/2018
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-MI-0074-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
09/06/2018
Expert Report of Jonathan Rodden, PhD [ECF# 13-3] (2018 WL 10072776)
VR-MI-0074-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
09/07/2018
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 12]
VR-MI-0074-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
01/03/2019
Stipulated Order to Continue the Stay of Proceedings and Postpone Status Conference [ECF# 26]
VR-MI-0074-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cleland, Robert Hardy (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Davis, Stephanie Dawkins (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Jacki Lynn (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0001 | VR-MI-0074-0002 | VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Berlin, Hayley L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0001 | VR-MI-0074-0002 | VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Dul, Sambo (Arizona) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0001 | VR-MI-0074-0002 | VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Elias, Marc Erik (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0001 | VR-MI-0074-0002 | VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Frost, Elisabeth C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0004
Marshall, Brian Simmonds (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-9000
Totten, Mark Allan (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0001 | VR-MI-0074-0002 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barton, Denise C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-9000
Meingast, Heather S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0004 | VR-MI-0074-9000
Mertens, Scott A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0074-0004

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