U.S. Judge Blocks Tenn. Law Attacking Rights of Voter Registration Groups

NASHVILLE — The Equity Alliance applauded a federal judge’s decision to block a Tennessee law restricting the rights of voter registration groups from taking effect.

In her opinion granting an injunction, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger wrote: “There is simply no basis in the record for concluding that the Act will provide much benefit to Tennesseans, and even less reason to think that any benefit will come close to outweighing the harms to Tennesseans (and non-Tennesseans) who merely wish to exercise their core constitutional rights of participating in the political process by encouraging voter registration.”

The Equity Alliance issued a statement after her ruling:

We are overjoyed by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s decision to block Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s law that unfairly imposes criminal and civil penalties on groups who engage in constitutionally protected voter registration. Judge Trauger saw this baseless and unconstitutional law for what it truly is: voter suppression in its ugliest form. 

This is a giant win for voting rights advocates who fight to ensure that every citizen has a voice. 

Make no mistake about it, this victory is a result of the unstoppable work of The Equity Alliance, a Black-led organization, and the Tennessee Black Voter Project, which submitted about 91,000 voter registration forms for Black and brown Tennesseans in 2018. We are relentless and unapologetic in our pursuit of a fair and just America for all Black citizens. 

Having persevered through 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and oppressive segregation, black people’s ability to vote and exercise free agency in this country is directly tied to our full personhood, dignity and humanity.

Today’s victory underscores the need for The Equity Alliance to fight back against attacks on our voting rights. We hope Secretary of State Tre Hargett reads every word of this opinion and heeds the court’s advice to make voter registration simpler in Tennessee and to work with voter registration groups who are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

We applaud Judge Trauger’s ruling and look forward to getting back to the necessary work of registering Black voters and advocating for their voting rights.