202 F.3d 110 (2nd Cir. 2000), 98-9536, Disabled Action Metropolitan v Hammons

Docket Nº:Docket No. 98-9536
Citation:202 F.3d 110
Party Name:DISABLED IN ACTION OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK, JOVITA ACOSTA, TISHECA LUCKEY and the United States of America, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. MARVA L. HAMMONS, Administrator, New York City Human Resources Administration, BARBARA A. DEBUONO, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, BRIAN J. WING, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of
Case Date:January 26, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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202 F.3d 110 (2nd Cir. 2000)

DISABLED IN ACTION OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK, JOVITA ACOSTA, TISHECA LUCKEY and the United States of America, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

MARVA L. HAMMONS, Administrator, New York City Human Resources Administration, BARBARA A. DEBUONO, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, BRIAN J. WING, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Social Services, STATE OF NEW YORK, GEORGE E. PATAKI, Governor of the State of New York; JAMES L. STONE, Commissioner, New York State Department of Mental Health, THOMAS A. MAUL, Commissioner, New York State Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, RICHARD P. MILLS, Commissioner, New York State Department of Education, JOHN L. BEHAN, Director, New York State Department of Veterans' Affairs, WALTER G. HOEFER, Director, New York State Office of the Aging, JEAN SOMERS MILLER, Commissioner, New York State Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, ALEXANDER F. TREADWELL, New York State Secretary of State, ROBERT R. SNASHALL, Chairman, New York State Workers' Compensation Board and

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THOMAS R. WILKEY, Executive Director, New York State Board of Elections, in their official capacities. Defendants-Appellees.

Docket No. 98-9536

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

January 26, 2000

Argued: Nov. 15, 1999

Appeal from judgments dated October 21, 1998 and February 23, 1999 denying plaintiffs' motions for partial summary judgment and granting defendants' motion for partial summary judgment, on plaintiffs' claims that defendants violated the National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq., by failing to designate various federal and nongovernmental offices as mandatory voter registration agencies.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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JUAN CARTAGENA, Community Service Society of New York, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, Jovita Acosta and Tisheca Luckey.

JENNIFER LEVIN, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC (Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Zachary W. Carter, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Sanford M. Cohen, Marla Tepper, of counsel; Mark L. Gross, on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appellant United States of America.

VINCENT LEONG, Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York (Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of the State of New York, of counsel; Michael S. Belohlavek, on the brief), for State Defendants-Appellees.

DONA B. MORRIS, Assistant Corporation Counsel of the City of New York (Michael D. Hess, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, of counsel; Francis F. Caputo,

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Paul Marks, on the brief), for Defendant-Appellee Marva L. Hammons.

Before: KEARSE, MCLAUGHLIN, and KATZMANN, Circuit Judges.

KATZMANN, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York, Jovita Acosta, Tisheca Luckey and the United States appeal from judgments dated October 21, 1998 and February 23, 1999 (Frederic Block, J.) denying their motions for partial summary judgment and granting defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs argued that defendants violated the National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq., by failing to designate as mandatory "voter registration agencies" approximately 1,600 public and nongovernmental hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, community-based organizations and other offices in New York City that assist individuals with the Medicaid application process. The district court concluded that these entities need not be so designated and granted partial summary judgment in favor of defendants. For the reasons stated below, the judgments of the district court are affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BACKGROUND

This appeal arises from two cases consolidated for purposes of discovery in the Eastern District of New York, both of which challenged the "agency­based" voter registration system that the City and State of New York have implemented pursuant to the enactment of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 ("NVRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq. The first case was brought by Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, a New York­based not­for­profit organization that advocates on behalf of the disabled, and by two individuals, Jovita Acosta and Tisheca Luckey (collectively, "DIA"), against Marva L. Hammons in her capacity as Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration of the City of New York (hereinafter referred to as "HRA" or the "City"),1 as well as Barbara A. DeBuono in her capacity as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, and Brian J. Wing in his capacity as Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services ("DSS") (collectively, the "State"). The United States brought the second case against the State and 12 State officials (collectively, the "State"), and the City.

In order to evaluate plaintiffs' arguments on appeal, it is necessary to first discuss the statutory framework of the NVRA and the City's Medicaid application procedures.

1. The NVRA

As the district court noted, Congress enacted the NVRA to "establish procedures ... [to] increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office" and to "enhance[ ] the participation of eligible citizens as voters in elections for Federal office." 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg(b)(1), (2). The Act establishes three separate procedures by which States must provide voter registration opportunities. First, the Act's so-called "motor voter" provision requires States to allow citizens to register to vote at the same time that they register for a driver's license. See42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-3. Second, the Act mandates that States provide voter registration opportunities by mail. See id. at § 1973gg-4. Third, § 1973gg-5 of the Act requires States to make such opportunities available at certain State-designated office sites: a procedure also known as "agency-based" registration.

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This appeal concerns the agency-based registration requirement of § 1973gg-5.

Under § 1973gg-5(a)(2):

Each State shall designate as voter registration agencies [VRAs]-

(A) all offices in the State that provide public assistance; and

(B) all offices in the State that provide State-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities.

In addition to the "mandatory" VRAs of § 1973gg-5(a)(2), under § 973gg-5(a)(3):

(A) . . . [E]ach State shall designate other offices within the State as [VRAs].

(B) [VRAs] designated under subparagraph (A) may include -

(i) State or local government offices such as public libraries, public schools, offices of city and county clerks (including marriage license bureaus), fishing and hunting license bureaus, government revenue offices, unemployment compensation offices, and offices not described in paragraph (2)(B) [of § 1973gg-5(a)] that provide services to persons with disabilities; and

(ii) Federal and nongovernmental offices, with the agreement of such offices.

Thus, while a State must designate some offices as "discretionary" VRAs under § 1973gg-5(a)(3), the choice of which offices will be so designated is left to the State.

The NVRA further provides that:

[a]ll departments, agencies, and other entities of the executive branch of the Federal Government shall, to the greatest extent practicable, cooperate with the States in carrying out [agency-based registration], and all nongovernmental entities are encouraged to do so.

Id. at § 1973gg-5(b).

Offices designated as mandatory or discretionary VRAs must, in addition to the services they normally provide, furnish voter registration application forms to applicants, offer applicants assistance with the completion of those forms, and accept completed forms for transmittal to the appropriate State election official. See id. at § 1973gg-5(a)(4)(A).

2. The New York Medicaid Program

New York's Medical Assistance Program ("Medicaid" or "MAP") is a joint federal-State program that provides medical assistance payments for qualified needy persons. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. The State Department of Health administers the program through 58 local social service districts, of which New York City is one. The New York City social service district is headed by the Commissioner of HRA.

An individual applying for Medicaid2 in New York City must submit a completed application to HRA, which reviews the application and determines the individual's eligibility. Medicaid-only applications are accepted at the MAP central office in Manhattan, as well as at 19 MAP offices located throughout the City. Thirteen of these offices are situated in the outpatient departments of public and private hospitals, while the rest are free-standing. HRA employees staff these offices, which the State has designated as mandatory VRAs under § 1973gg-5(a)(2)(A) of the Act. Approximately 8,600 applications per month are made in person at these offices.

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This appeal involves two groups of offices in the New York City social service district that provide Medicaid applications, and in some cases assistance with those applications, but have not been designated by the State as either mandatory VRAs under § 1973gg-5(a)(2)(A) or discretionary VRAs under § 1973gg-5(a)(3)(A). The first group includes over 1,5003 public and nongovernmental hospitals, nursing homes, health clinics, community organizations and other offices.4 The vast majority of these offices are nongovernmental, and none are staffed...

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