MANHATTAN (CN) — Joining a spate a legal actions across the country, two civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit in New York on Tuesday blasting President Donald Trump’s voter fraud probe as a ruse to justify suppressing people of color from the polls.
In a blistering 56-page complaint, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund echoes criticism of the investigation that has been heard in courts in Florida, Kansas, Washington, D.C. and beyond.
“This commission has one purpose: to justify voter suppression,” the group’s president Sherrilyn Ifill said in a statement. “Numerous statements made by this President and his surrogates about the need for this commission – statements detailed in our complaint – support the conclusion that this commission was created to substantiate the claim that African American and Latino voters are engaged in widespread voter fraud.”
The Ordinary People Society, an Alabama faith-based group, joined in the lawsuit, which seeks a permanent injunction declaring the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity unconstitutional.
The lawsuit pores over Trump’s statements exhaustively, from his repeated claims during the campaign season that the election would be “rigged” to his “unsubstantiated and racially-coded allegations of widespread voter fraud” after lost the popular vote.
“At no time has President Trump provided any evidence to substantiate the claim that widespread voter fraud existed in the November 2016 election or any other election,” the lawsuit states. “Moreover, the Commission’s actions have already had a chilling effect on black and Latino voters. Some voters have taken the extraordinary step of unregistering, and black and Latino voters in particular have reported well-founded fears of being targeted for false allegations of voter fraud and of being retaliated against for their political affiliation.”
The Washington Post counted at least seven lawsuits filed against Trump opposing the voter fraud commission.
Just last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in the nation’s capital seeking to force the commission to be more transparent.
The group’s Florida branch joined five registered voters there the same day accusing the Trump administration of violating their privacy rights by attempting to collect their personal data.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity’s requests for personal voter data has sparked a nationwide backlash: More than 40 states have refused to turn over the information.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is not affiliated with the civil rights group behind its acronym, claims the committee is not about election integrity at all.
“President Trump has not appointed a commission for the purpose of consulting with fair-and-balanced advisors; rather, he has appointed a commission stacked with biased members to undertake an investigation into unfounded allegations of voter fraud, even though Congress has specifically delegated the authority to ensure the accuracy of voter rolls to the Election Assistance Commission and state election officials, not the president,” the complaint states. “As such, the creation of this commission constitutes unauthorized presidential action.”
Vice President Mike Pence serves as the committee’s chair, and its vice chair Kris Kobach is the architect of several Kansas voter ID laws, earning him a reputation from the ACLU as the “King of Voter Suppression.”
Speaking of Kobach’s tenure as Kansas Secretary of state, the civil rights groups note in their lawsuit: “Secretary Kobach has, on numerous occasions, railed against what he regards as the threat of voter fraud in distinctly racialized terms.”
“For example, Secretary Kobach has warned against ‘replacing American voters with newly legalized aliens,’ because ‘if you look at it through an ethnic lens, … over the long term, you’ve got a locked in vote for socialism,’” the complaint states.
A Democrat from Kobach’s state filed a complaint with the Kansas Supreme Court’s disciplinary arm this week to investigate him for misconduct in his capacity as secretary of state.
Tuesday’s lawsuit lobs seven civil rights counts against Trump, Pence, Kobach and the commission, including violations of the Fifth Amendment, 15th Amendment, Federal Advisory Committee Act and Administrative Procedures Act.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Ordinary People Society’s complaint is signed by the former’s in-house counsel Samuel Spital.