Office of the Ohio Secretary of State
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
Harvard Law School
A new legal filing made by a GOP-backed coalition of military groups in support of an effort by Ohio Republicans to reduce early voting hours accuses President Obama of "undermin[ing] the rights of military voters for his own partisan advantage.”
As Lean Forward reported Tuesday, the military coalition, described in news reports as non-partisan, was organized by Michael Morley, a Republican lawyer and political operative who’s behind several similar efforts to intervene in voting cases in swing states, always to the benefit of the GOP. Morley has not responded to numerous requests for comment.
The coalition’s new brief (pdf), filed Monday in support of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, uses rhetoric that appears more suited to a campaign press release than a legal document. “[I]nstead of boldly fighting to defend the constitutional rights of the men and women who serve under his command and risk their lives at his order,” it charges, “the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces is allowing his campaign to undermine the rights of military voters for his own partisan advantage.”
Indeed, that language echoes political attacks made by Mitt Romney and Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel. Romney’s campaign last month accused Obama of seeking to “undermine” military voting rights, and Mandel claimed Obama was “trying to suppress the military vote.”
Morley’s name appears at the bottom of the filing, alongside that of James Dickerson, an Ohio trial lawyer who has been active with his local Republican party organization, according to a bio on his law firm’s website.
In recent months, Morley, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, has intervened in separate lawsuits in support of Pennsylvania’s and Wisconsin’s (pdf) controversial GOP-backed voter ID laws (Wisconsin’s law was put on hold by a judge). He also has represented a group of Iowa voters seeking to have Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson —who ran in the Republican primaries and could pull votes away from Mitt Romney—knocked off the ballot there.
At issue in Ohio is a lawsuit filed in July by the Obama campaign against Husted, seeking to block him from implementing a Republican-backed state law that scrapped early voting in the last three days before the election for everyone but the military. The Obama campaign asked that civilians, in addition to the military, also be allowed to vote on these days, as they were in 2010 and 2008, without incident. Not long afterward, the military coalition formally asked to intervene in opposition to the lawsuit. It argued that although service-members’ ability to vote early wasn’t at risk here, the Obama campaign’s suit could create a precedent that jeopardized military voting rights in the future, by challenging Ohio’s right to make special rules for the military.