O’Melveny Secures Key Voting Rights in Pro Bono Case

November 12, 2014


Julie Fei
O’Melveny & Myers LLP

LOS ANGELES -- November 12, 2014 -- O’Melveny & Myers LLP recently won a Tenth Circuit victory, securing important voting rights in Kansas and Arizona in a joint effort with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).

The case stemmed from MALDEF’s 2013 high court win in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc., which found that voter registration requirements in Arizona violated the National Voter Registration Act. Despite the win, the Supreme Court left room for states to implement stringent voter identification rules again. When Kansas and Arizona did just that and sued the US Election Assistance Commission, represented by the Department of Justice, arguing that the states have the power to decide proof-of-citizenship requirements, O’Melveny took on the pro bono case to defend voters from being forced to provide either a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the Firm and reversed the decision by the federal district court in Kansas that ordered the federal government to add those onerous voter registration requirements to the federal voter registration form.

“Forcing people to jump through hoops to register to vote violates the Voting Rights Act, and places an undue burden on minorities and the poor,” said partner Linda Smith, who led the O’Melveny team. “The full panoply of states' rights versus the federal government were at issue — federalism, preemption, the separation of powers, and the Supremacy Clause. We established a terrific precedent and prevented Kansas and Arizona from blocking the voter registration of minorities, the poor, and the elderly.”

The O’Melveny team was led by Smith and partner Adam KohSweeney.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP
With approximately 750 lawyers in 15 offices worldwide, O’Melveny & Myers LLP helps industry leaders across a broad array of sectors manage the complex challenges of succeeding in the global economy. We are a values-driven law firm, guided by the principles of excellence, leadership, and citizenship. Our commitment to these values is reflected in our dedication to improving access to justice through pro bono work and championing initiatives that increase the diversity of the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.omm.com.