The general counsel for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign is heading up three high-profile lawsuits against Republican-backed voting restrictions in what is shaping up to be a perfect political and legal storm leading up to the 2016 election. The attorney, Marc Elias, is involved in lawsuits challenging measures passed in Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, arguing that laws cutting back early voting, restricting registration and requiring photo identification to vote, among other measures, disproportionately impact racial minorities.
Conservatives have argued such measures protect against voter fraud, and have called the lawsuits a political effort to energize Democratic voters. The financial involvement of the billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, who is supporting the suits, has only incensed them further.
There are high stakes to the lawsuits, as the Supreme Court displayed a certain skepticism about federal voting rights legislation when it struck down a key section of the landmark Voting Rights Act in 2013. That provision had required states and localities with a history of voting discrimination to first clear any changes to their voting laws with the federal government or in federal court. The VRA still bars voting procedures that discriminate against racial minorities, but the strength of that section hasn’t been tested since the court’s controversial decision two years ago.