The Democratic National Committee v. Hobbs, 012720 FED9, 18-15845

Docket Nº:18-15845
Opinion Judge:FLETCHER, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Party Name:The Democratic National Committee; DSCC, AKA Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; The Arizona Democratic Party, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Katie Hobbs, in her official capacity as Secretary of State of Arizona; Mark Brnovich, Attorney General, in his official capacity as Arizona Attorney General, Defendants-Appellees, The Arizona Republican...
Attorney:Bruce V. Spiva (argued), Marc E. Elias, Elisabeth C. Frost, Amanda R. Callais, and Alexander G. Tischenko, Perkins Coie LLP, Washington, D.C.; Daniel C. Barr and Sarah R. Gonski, Perkins Coie LLP, Phoenix, Arizona; Joshua L. Kaul, Perkins Coie LLP, Madison, Wisconsin; for Plaintiffs-Appellants. A...
Judge Panel:Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, and Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, William A. Fletcher, Marsha S. Berzon , Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Richard R. Clifton, Jay S. Bybee, Consuelo M. Callahan, Mary H. Murguia, Paul J. Watford, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges. WATFORD, Circuit Judge, concurring: O'SCAN...
Case Date:January 27, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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The Democratic National Committee; DSCC, AKA Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; The Arizona Democratic Party, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

Katie Hobbs, in her official capacity as Secretary of State of Arizona; Mark Brnovich, Attorney General, in his official capacity as Arizona Attorney General, Defendants-Appellees,

The Arizona Republican Party; Bill Gates, Councilman; Suzanne Klapp, Councilwoman; Debbie Lesko, Sen.; Tony Rivero, Rep., Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

No. 18-15845

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 27, 2020

Argued and Submitted En Banc March 27, 2019 San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona No. 2:16-cv-01065-DLR Douglas L. Rayes, District Judge, Presiding

Bruce V. Spiva (argued), Marc E. Elias, Elisabeth C. Frost, Amanda R. Callais, and Alexander G. Tischenko, Perkins Coie LLP, Washington, D.C.; Daniel C. Barr and Sarah R. Gonski, Perkins Coie LLP, Phoenix, Arizona; Joshua L. Kaul, Perkins Coie LLP, Madison, Wisconsin; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Andrew G. Pappas (argued), Joseph E. La Rue, Karen J. Hartman-Tellez, and Kara M. Karlson, Assistant Attorneys General; Dominic E. Draye, Solicitor General; Mark Brnovich, Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Phoenix, Arizona; for Defendants-Appellees.

Brett W. Johnson (argued) and Colin P. Ahler, Snell & Wilmer LLP, Phoenix, Arizona, for Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

John M. Gore (argued), Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Thomas E. Chandler and Erin H. Flynn, Attorneys; Gregory B. Friel, Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General; Department of Justice, CRD-Appellate Section, Washington, D.C.; for Amicus Curiae United States.

Kathleen E. Brody, ACLU Foundation of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona; Dale Ho, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York, New York; Davin Rosborough and Ceridwen Chery, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Washington, D.C.; for Amici Curiae American Civil Liberties Union & American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, and Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, William A. Fletcher, Marsha S. Berzon [*] , Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Richard R. Clifton, Jay S. Bybee, Consuelo M. Callahan, Mary H. Murguia, Paul J. Watford, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY

[**]

Civil Rights

The en banc court reversed the district court's judgment following a bench trial in favor of defendants, the Arizona Secretary of State and Attorney General in their official capacities, in an action brought by the Democratic National Committee and others challenging, first, Arizona's policy of wholly discarding, rather than counting or partially counting, ballots cast in the wrong precinct; and, second, House Bill 2023, a 2016 statute criminalizing the collection and delivery of another person's ballot.

Plaintiffs asserted that the out-of-precinct policy (OOP) and House Bill (H.B.) 2023 violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended because they adversely and disparately affected Arizona's American Indian, Hispanic, and African American citizens. Plaintiffs also asserted that H.B. 2023 violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution because it was enacted with discriminatory intent. Finally, plaintiffs asserted that the OOP policy and H.B. 2023 violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments because they unduly burden minorities' right to vote.

The en banc court held that Arizona's policy of wholly discarding, rather than counting or partially counting, OOP ballots, and H.B. 2023's criminalization of the collection of another person's ballot, have a discriminatory impact on American Indian, Hispanic, and African American voters in Arizona, in violation of the "results test" of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, the en banc court determined that plaintiffs had shown that Arizona's OOP policy and H.B. 2023 imposed a significant disparate burden on its American Indian, Hispanic, and African American citizens, resulting in the "denial or abridgement of the right of its citizens to vote on account of race or color." 52 U.S.C. § 10301(a). Second, plaintiffs had shown that, under the "totality of circumstances," the discriminatory burden imposed by the OOP policy and H.B. 2023 was in part caused by or linked to "social and historical conditions" that have or currently produce "an inequality in the opportunities enjoyed by [minority] and white voters to elect their preferred representatives" and to participate in the political process. Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 47 (1986); 52 U.S.C. § 10301(b).

The en banc court held that H.B. 2023's criminalization of the collection of another person's ballot was enacted with discriminatory intent, in violation of the "intent test" of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and of the Fifteenth Amendment. The en banc court held that the totality of the circumstances-Arizona's long history of race-based voting discrimination; the Arizona legislature's unsuccessful efforts to enact less restrictive versions of the same law when preclearance was a threat; the false, race-based claims of ballot collection fraud used to convince Arizona legislators to pass H.B. 2023; the substantial increase in American Indian and Hispanic voting attributable to ballot collection that was targeted by H.B. 2023; and the degree of racially polarized voting in Arizona-cumulatively and unmistakably revealed that racial discrimination was a motivating factor in enacting H.B. 2023. The en banc court further held that Arizona had not carried its burden of showing that H.B. 2023 would have been enacted without the motivating factor of racial discrimination. The panel declined to reach DNC's First and Fourteenth Amendment claims.

Concurring, Judge Watford joined the court's opinion to the extent it invalidated Arizona's out-of-precinct policy and H.B. 2023 under the results test. Judge Watford did not join the opinion's discussion of the intent test.

Dissenting, Judge O'Scannlain, joined by Judges Clifton, Bybee and Callahan, stated that the majority drew factual inferences that the evidence could not support and misread precedent along the way. In so doing, the majority impermissibly struck down Arizona's duly enacted policies designed to enforce its precinct-based election system and to regulate third-party collection of early ballots.

Dissenting, Judge Bybee, joined by Judges O'Scannlain, Clifton and Callahan, wrote separately to state that in considering the totality of the circumstances, which took into account long-held, widely adopted measures, Arizona's time, place, and manner rules were well within our American democratic-republican tradition.

OPINION

FLETCHER, CIRCUIT JUDGE

The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Chief Justice Warren wrote in his autobiography that the precursor to one person, one vote, Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), was the most important case decided during his tenure as Chief Justice-a tenure that included Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Earl Warren, The Memoirs of Earl Warren 306 (1977). Chief Justice Warren wrote in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964): "The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government." Justice Black wrote in Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964): "No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined."

For over a century, Arizona has repeatedly targeted its American Indian, Hispanic, and African American citizens, limiting or eliminating their ability to vote and to participate in the political process. In 2016, the Democratic National Committee and other Plaintiffs-Appellants (collectively, "DNC" or "Plaintiffs") sued Arizona's Secretary of State and Attorney General in their official capacities (collectively, "Arizona") in federal district court.

DNC challenged, first, Arizona's policy of wholly discarding, rather than counting or partially counting, ballots cast in the wrong precinct ("out-of-precinct" or "OOP" policy); and, second, House Bill 2023 ("H.B. 2023"), a 2016 statute criminalizing the collection and delivery of another person's ballot. DNC contends that the OOP policy and H.B. 2023 violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended ("VRA") because they adversely and disparately affect Arizona's American Indian, Hispanic, and African American citizens. DNC also contends that H.B. 2023...

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