State of Tennessee

Tennessee Primary Voting Law Challenge II

Lawson v. Hargett

Lawsuit filed on behalf of four voters and the League of Women Voters of Tennessee (LWVT) against Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett (R), Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins (R) and several Tennessee district attorneys challenging a Tennessee law that requires a person to be a “bona fide member of and affiliated with” or “declare allegiance” to a political party to vote in a party’s primary election. 

The plaintiffs argue that the law does not provide a definition for how a voter could become a “bona fide” member or “allegiant” to a political party and is therefore unconstitutionally vague. The plaintiffs argue that “through threats of prosecution based on nebulous and unknowable standards,” the laws violate the First Amendment because they will deter a larger range of protected voting conduct than is necessary to protect against “a phantom threat of malicious crossover voting.” The plaintiffs allege that the law violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The plaintiffs ask the court to find this law unconstitutional and block Tennessee and local district attorneys from enforcing it.

The LWVT filed a similar lawsuit challenging this law in November 2023, but that case was dismissed without prejudice in March 2024.

STATUS: The plaintiffs filed their complaint on May 1, 2024. Tennessee has not responded yet.

Case Documents

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