A Republican majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices have demolished the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of the civil rights movement, as well as using the 2010
Citizens Corporations United decision to remove restraints on campaign spending begun when Theodore Roosevelt was president.
At the lower court level, however, the Grand Old Party has continued to suffer loss after loss, particularly with the Trump attempt to overturn the outcome of our 2020 presidential election and attacks on voting laws in states which have sought to make it easier to cast ballots.
The Seattle-based bicoastal Perkins Coie law firm used to be a white shoe outfit, known for two signature clients, the Boeing Company and Puget Sound Power and Light. Longtime Boeing CEO William Allen and Puget Power boss (later Seattle Mariners president) John Ellis were alumni of the firm. Such were pillars of the business wing of Republicanism in the Evergreen State.
In recent years, however, P‑C has developed a specialty in election law, and has come to represent Democrats… including the state party, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and Barack and Michelle Obama. Two of President Clinton’s picks to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals came from Perkins Coie.
The firm represented Maria Cantwell in the post-election battle over her 2,229-vote 2000 upset of Republican Senator Slade Gorton.
Perkins Coie was in Chelan County Superior Court, successfully defending Governor Chris Gregoire’s 133-vote 2004 victory over Dino Rossi.
It handled the prolonged litigation, after the 2008 election, that sent former Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken to the U.S. Senate.
Perkins Coie fought off Trump challenges to President Biden’s 2020 capture of Georgia and has defended Democrats’ 2022 victories in Arizona.
It successfully sued to overturn actions by Montana’s Republican-run legislature that sought to make it difficult for Native Americans to vote, and to put obstacles in the way of college voters.
Naturally, then, Perkins Coie was picked by three groups – El Centro de la Raza, Washington Bus and VetVoice – to challenge the signature verification requirements in Washington’s vote-by-mail system.
They’ve recently filed suit in King County Super Court, arguing that the requirement violates the Washington State Constitution as thousands of legitimate voters grapple with having their ballots rejected. The rejections fall disproportionately on Black voters, young people, and the disabled.
Enter the Republicans.
There have long been rumbles in the Republican ranks over how “easy” it is to vote in the Evergreen State, even though our elections were long under supervision of five successive Republicans holding the office of Secretary of State.
The state Republican Party, with some fanfare, sought to intervene in the signature case, joined by the Republican National Committee. They were bent on defending signature verification. The root reason, in words of RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel: “Mail-in voting increases the opportunity for fraud.”
“And they brought in the big guns, Trump’s lawyers from the Consovoy McCarthy law firm, and paired them with the team from Davis Wright that represented Dino Rossi in his failed contest over the 2004 election,” reported Perkins Coie lawyer Kevin Hamilton, veteran of the Cantwell, Gregoire, Franken and Georgia battles, in an amused memo.
They lost. King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer has denied the motion to intervene. “If there’s one thing this case does not need, it’s Trump’s lawyers trying to defend the indefensible,” Hamilton chortled.
The Republicans’ philosophy on litigation is never to spend one dollar when two (or more) will do. Judge Shaffer may have saved the party some money, needed until recently (when he announced his candidacy) to pay Trump’s legal bills.
A few years back, the American Civil Liberties Union – represented by Perkins Coie – sued the city of Yakima over city-wide election of city council and school board members. More than forty percent of the city’s population is Latino and Hispanic, but no Latino or Latina had ever won election to any city office.
The city fought against the suit, filed under the Voting Rights Act, and spent through the nose. The plaintiffs’ legal briefs were so convincing, however, that a federal judge delivered a summary judgment.
The composition of the Yakima City Council was forever changed.