Advocates Urge 6th Circuit to Protect Voting Rights of Pro-Life Tennesseans
On Friday morning, supporters of the 2014 Amendment dealing with abortion regulation in Tennessee filed a Friend-of-the-Court brief as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to consider arguments as to whether the votes of some pro-life Tennesseans may be thrown out.
8,850 Tennessee voters joined their names to the brief on behalf of the Yes on 1 campaign arguing that the campaign has a direct interest not only in supporting Amendment 1's ratification, but also in ensuring that the constitutional right to vote guaranteed to each Tennessean is fully protected.
On November 4, 2014, Amendment 1 was passed by a vote of 53% to 47%. Three days later, supporters of Planned Parenthood filed suit in Federal District Court insisting that the minority must prevail over the majority because "certain votes in favor of Amendment 1 receive(d) disproportionate weight..."
Earlier this year, Federal District Judge Kevin Sharp sided with Planned Parenthood and ordered that the votes of potentially tens of thousands of voters be disqualified on the basis that "voting for governor is a precondition to having a vote on an amendment count." Sharp has directed state election officials to prepare to recount the 2014 ballots, an order that has been stayed pending a decision by the 6th Circuit in the case.
"The people of Tennessee spoke with their votes in 2014," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. "Pro-life advocates organized early to win Amendment 1 and then worked the campaign plan all the way to the closing of the polls on election night. As a result of focused hard work and sacrifice, the amendment was won in 88 of 95 counties. That's how our political system works and we fully expect the courts to uphold the votes of every Tennessean, including those who supported the passage and ratification of Amendment 1."
Tennessee election law expert Daniel Horwitz filed the brief on behalf of Yes on 1 saying "This is not a case about whether one is pro-life or pro-choice. This is a case about whether one believes that people who are pro-life should have the right to vote."
As the case unfolds, additional briefs and oral arguments by both sides are expected to be scheduled by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.