RNC Wins Discovery Appeal In Suit Alleging Vote Suppression

Bloomberg Law

Porter Wells

January 8, 2019

  • Trial court denied deposition, discovery requests
  • But court’s ‘careful’ approach dooms DNC appeal

The court in which the Democratic and Republican National Committees crossed swords over alleged voter suppression wasn’t wrong to limit the scope of the DNC’s discovery requests, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said Jan. 8.

The Democrats simply couldn’t carry its burden of showing that the trial court improperly denied certain deposition requests, the Third Circuit said.

The DNC took particular issue with the trial court’s denial last autumn of eight discovery requests, including one request to depose then-RNC Chair Reince Preibus and another to depose Nevada poll workers about alleged minority voter intimidation.

But the trial court acted “carefully and appropriately” as it “reviewed more than thirty filings in fifteen months,” the Third Circuit said.

The trial court also heard nine rounds of oral argument and provided “detailed explanations” in each of nine written orders, each of which stayed within the framework of the federal rules of civil procedure, the appeals court said.

The Third Circuit’s recognition of the trial court’s “thorough and thoughtful work” is “gratifying,” Bobby Burchfield, one of the attorneys for the RNC, told Bloomberg Law in a Jan. 8 email. He’s a partner with King & Spalding in Washington.

The crux of the disagreement between the two major political parties is the DNC’s claim that the RNC was suppressing minority votes through “ballot security” measures during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Perkins Coie and Genova Burns represented the DNC and didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.