Lawsuit Challenging Iowa’s English-Only Law Moves Forward

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a trial court judge in Iowa allowed a lawsuit challenging Iowa’s failure to provide non-English election materials to voters with limited English proficiency to move forward. The lawsuit, filed in October 2021 by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa, was brought over the state’s “English-only Law,” which mandates that all political documents from the state “shall be in the English language.” This lawsuit focuses on an exception to this law, which states that translated materials are allowed if they are “​​necessary to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America or the Constitution of the State of Iowa.” LULAC asks the court to declare that translating voting materials for Iowans with limited English proficiency falls under this exception and to dissolve a permanent injunction issued in prior, unrelated litigation that prohibits the use of non-English voter registration forms.

The defendants sought to end the case by arguing that the plaintiffs did not have standing to ask for the requested relief and they could not ask for the permanent injunction to be dissolved. While the court agreed that LULAC could not ask for the permanent injunction to be dissolved and subsequently dismissed that claim, it held that LULAC did have standing to ask for a judgment on which election materials fall under the English-only law. The surviving claim will move forward in trial court to determine whether voting materials are exempt from the English-only law.

Read the order here.