Purcell Brief

Here’s the link to a Supreme Court amicus brief, filed earlier today on behalf of several election law scholars (including myself), asking the Court to provide more guidance about the Purcell principle. The brief makes two principal arguments: (1) that Purcell advises against, but doesn’t categorically bar, judicial intervention close to an election; and (2) that, in determining whether to intervene, courts should weigh the disenfranchisement that will occur if they don’t step in against the voter confusion that might result from their involvement.

Amici strongly believe that lower courts would benefit from further guidance on the import and application of Purcell. That guidance would clarify that timing alone should not drive the decision whether to grant an injunction in election cases. Rather, as in any equitable proceeding, context is vital. Thus, as further explained below, a court considering a request for an injunction should weigh, inter alia, whether the injunction sought would likely cause voter confusion that would chill voting, whether failure to issue the injunction would likely lead to a greater chilling effect, whether the injunction would likely lead election officials to err, and whether the party seeking the injunction acted diligently or could have sought relief earlier in time. Only by fully considering those factors—and others that may apply given the context—can a court properly determine whether injunctive relief is warranted.

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