Leaders of 62 Am Law 100 firms and 19 general counsel have signed on to a statement that “denounces all efforts” to restrict U. S. citizens’ constitutional right to vote.
After calling on lawyers to “take a stand” (https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2021/04/01/paul-weiss-leaders-its-time-for-legal-industry-to-fight-voter-suppression-efforts/) against state laws that make it more difficult for people to vote, Brad Karp, chair of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and chair of the Legal Action Center, asked leaders of the Am Law 100 to sign a statement denouncing voter disenfranchisement. Lucy Fato, general counsel of AIG, secured support from current or former general counsel at 18 other companies.
This is the statement:
“Equal access to voting is a fundamental right in the United States. Making voting easier, not harder, for all eligible voters should be the goal of every elected official. Election laws that impose unnecessary obstacles and barriers on the right to vote and that disenfranchise underrepresented groups represent a significant step backwards for all Americans. Now, more than ever, courageous leadership is required from our elected officials. We, the undersigned law firm managing partners and corporate general counsel, denounce all efforts to restrict the constitutional right of every eligible American to vote and to participate in our democracy.”
The statement comes in the wake of a new election law that was recently signed in Georgia, which voter rights activists say will make voting more difficult in that state. Legislatures in in many other states are considering similar “voting integrity” measures that would make voting more difficult.
The lawyers are not alone in speaking out. Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game from Georgia in response to the new election law and a number of corporations in Georgia, Texas and elsewhere have criticized the efforts to make it harder for people to vote.
In response to questions about his effort to organize Big Law against voter suppression measures, Karp wrote in an email that is it “crucially important” for the private bar to send a powerful message to government leaders that it is “unacceptable to make voting harder, not easier, for all eligible voters, and to emphatically denounce efforts to impose unnecessary obstacles and barriers on the right to vote that disenfranchise underrepresented groups.”
Organizing the bar is just the first step, he added.
“As we did in connection with challenging our nation’s gun violence epidemic and the Trump Administration’s barbaric family separation immigration policies, we are forming a coalition of leading law firms and public interest organizations to challenge state voter suppression legislation and to support national legislation to protect voting rights and increase voter participation,” he wrote.
Fato said she got involved in the effort because voting is a fundamental right, and it’s important for lawyers to speak up.
“It is simply the right thing to do. I don’t view it as a political issue. I view it as an American issue,” she said.
Fato said Peter Zaffino, AIG president and CEO, already issued a statement opposing efforts to disenfranchise voters, and participated (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/04/11/companies-voting-bills-states/) in an online meeting Saturday of corporate leaders to discuss ways to oppose voter suppression measures.
Reprinted with permission from the April 12, 2021 edition of The American Lawyer © 2021 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.