Kansas Supreme Court – League of Women Voters v. Schwab Brief Filed

On October 4, the State Democracy Research Initiative submitted an amici curiae brief on behalf of Professors Richard E. Levy and Stephen R. McAllister of the University of Kansas School of Law in a lawsuit pending before the Kansas Supreme Court, League of Women Voters of Kansas v. Schwab.

The case considers whether an absentee ballot signature matching requirement and a ballot collection restriction violate the Kansas Constitution’s right to vote. One of the primary issues is the appropriate level of judicial scrutiny in reviewing the constitutionality of the challenged laws. The trial court applied a test that largely deferred to the state legislature’s choices, but an intermediate appellate court reversed the trial court, holding that because the right to vote is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution, laws that impair this right must be subjected to close (“strict”) judicial scrutiny.

The amici curiae brief urges the Kansas Supreme Court to affirm the appellate court’s decision to apply strict scrutiny to the challenged laws. The brief discusses the Kansas Supreme Court’s history of applying strict scrutiny to laws that impair fundamental rights and the right to vote’s role as the “bed-rock” of Kansas’ constitutional system. The brief also highlights how courts in other states commonly protect voting rights more vigorously than do federal courts.

Together with Professors Levy and McAllister, staff attorneys Derek Clinger and Emily Lau contributed significantly to this brief.