Top Private Law Firms Plan “SWAT Teams” to Fight Voting Restrictions in Courts



First of all, it is businesses. Now this is the bar.

More than a dozen of the country’s top law firms have pledged to join forces to challenge voting restrictions across the country, adding legal force to the corporate lobbying campaign against Republican-led attempts to revise the elections following the loss of former President Donald Trump.

One of the leaders of the effort, Brad Karp, chairman of New York City law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, said on Monday that 16 firms had signed so far, including his own. Lawyers will act as “SWAT teams” for legal actions, he said. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management who works to help mobilize US businesses against the restrictions, described the legal coalition as an “army of electoral law experts ready to be dispatched at any time.”

The group came together from conversations between major law firms about taking a public stand against restrictive voting laws like the one enacted in Georgia last month, as well as bills under consideration in Texas , Arizona, Florida and other states.

“I think it is extremely important for the private bar, first of all, to send a powerful and unified message to government officials that it is unacceptable to make voting more difficult, not easier, for all. eligible voters, ”Karp said. “Supporting the right of all eligible voters to vote for the candidates of their choice is at the heart of our democracy and should be embraced by all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. “

Meanwhile, sixty-five law firms have signed a statement first released on Monday that urges elected officials to prioritize access to the vote. The list of signatories includes executives from Perkins Coie of Seattle, as well as Davis Polk & Wardwell; Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton; and Paul, Weiss, all based in New York, according to The American Lawyer, a legal publication.

“Making voting easier, not harder, for all eligible voters should be the goal of every elected official. Election laws that impose unnecessary obstacles and barriers to the right to vote and that deny under-represented groups the right to vote votes represent a significant setback for all Americans, ”the statement said.

Of the 65 companies, Karp said, 16 have committed to mobilizing labor.

The legal effort, which he said he expects to expand, would see thousands of attorneys teaming up with attorneys and attorneys who typically challenge election laws in states. Karp said the group is planning a multi-year effort, with presences in as many states as needed.

Republicans, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, have argued that major changes are needed to restore confidence in the election after Trump spent months pushing the lie that he was robbed. More than 350 restrictive vote bills are under consideration in 47 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. By all official accounts, the 2020 elections were secure and the results accurate. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud and that Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results failed in courtrooms across the country.

Businesses began denouncing Republican-led efforts late last month, after Kemp signed a sweeping overhaul of the law in Georgia, which President Joe Biden turned blue for the first time in decades. Large Georgia-based companies, such as Delta and Coca-Cola, have strongly criticized the law; Delta’s CEO denounced it as “based on a lie” after months of incitement by state activists.

A letter from black business leaders – published in a full-page ad in The New York Times and signed by more than 70 black business leaders – has helped more than 200 business leaders speak out, and in some cases , to act, said defenders. Major League Baseball has announced it is moving its All-Star game to Atlanta in protest.

Other corporate giants singled out restrictive proposals from the Republican-controlled Texas legislature for particular condemnation, while Georgia lost its first film production to the law on Monday.

The Republicans backed off.

Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Warned U.S. businesses to “stay out of politics” before softening his stance the next day, saying: “I didn’t say that very much. cleverly yesterday. They certainly have a right to be involved in politics. They are. My main complaint is that they haven’t read the damn bill, “referring to the law recently enacted by Georgia.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said the company’s response was “nonsense” and American Airlines CEO should “walk away” after the airline denounced a bill sponsored by the GOP in Texas, where it is headquartered.

More than 120 CEOs and senior executives, lawyers and experts joined a Zoom call on Saturday to plan their next moves, NBC News reported. Private sector leaders discussed issuing more public statements, withdrawing investments from states that adopt restrictions, and getting involved in lawsuits related to voting rights.

At least four lawsuits have already been filed by voting rights and civil rights groups challenging Georgia’s changes to the voting law.

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