Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Public Interest Legal Foundation, Inc. v. Bell

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

October 16, 2019

PUBLIC INTEREST LEGAL FOUNDATION, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN BRINSON BELL, in her official capacity as Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          TERRENCE W. BOYLE, CHIEF JUDGE

         This cause comes before the Court on defendants' motions to dismiss[1] the amended complaint in its entirety. Plaintiff has responded, defendants have replied, and the matter is ripe for ruling. For the reasons that follow, the motions to dismiss are granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action against the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBOE) seeking disclosure of public voting records pursuant to Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), 52 U.S.C. § 20507(i). NCSBOE moved to dismiss the complaint. Plaintiff thereafter filed an amended complaint, adding Bell as a defendant. Defendants Bell and NCSBOE filed the instant motions to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         The amended complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff is a non-partisan, public interest organization that seeks to promote the integrity of elections nationwide through research, education, remedial programs, and litigation. Plaintiff regularly utilizes the NVRA's public disclosure provision as well as state and federal open records laws to gain access to records and data which plaintiff compiles and disseminates in accordance with its organizational mission.

         Plaintiff alleges that more than nine months ago it requested access to public records maintained by the NCSBOE and that the NCSBOE has denied its request. Specifically, plaintiff requested records following the NCSBOE's issuance of a post-election audit report in April 2017 which stated that in the 2016 general election:

41 non-citizens with legal status (green card, etc.) cast ballots. The State Constitution only permits U.S. citizens to register and vote. The audit pairing state and federal databases identified an additional 34 voters who provided documents showing they are U.S. citizens. Investigators continue to review 61 additional records.

[DE 8 ¶ 29] (emphasis in original removed).

         On September 10, 2018, Plaintiff sent letters to the county boards of elections for the counties of Durham, Guilford, and Forsyth seeking to inspect three broad categories of records: (1) documents regarding all registrants who were identified as potentially not satisfying the citizenship requirements for registration from any official information source, including the United States Department of Homeland Security and the North Carolina Department of Motor vehicles; (2) all documents and records of communication received by the boards of elections from registered voters, legal counsel, claimed relatives or other agents since January 1, 2006, requesting removal or cancellation from the voter role for any reason related to non-United States Citizenship; and (3) all documents and records of communication received by the boards of elections since January 1, 2006, from state and federal jury selection officials referencing individuals who claimed to be non-U.S. citizens when responding to a jury summons. Plaintiffs request for records was later amended to include the same records from Buncombe and Mecklenberg counties.

         The relevant county boards of elections were not responsive to plaintiffs requests, and thus plaintiff contacted the NCSBOE. After several months of communication between plaintiff and the NCSBOE, on May 3, 2019, plaintiff received a letter from then-counsel for the NCSBOE describing programs and activities conducted by the NCSBOE to perform registration list maintenance in regard to actual or suspected noncitizen registrants; the letter further explained that the NCSBOE would not allow plaintiff to inspect those records related to the programs and activities described in the letter. Despite continued efforts, plaintiff has not been permitted to inspect the records which it has sought to inspect. This suit followed.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the first amended complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of civil Procedure.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. When subject matter jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction to survive the motion. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647-50 (4th Cir. 1999). "In determining whether jurisdiction exists, the district court is to regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). To this end, "the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts beyond the pleadings to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists." Id. (citing Trentacosta v. Frontier Pacific Aircraft Indus., 813 F.2d 1553, 1558-59 (9th Cir. 1987)).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Papasan v. Attain,478 U.S. 265, 283 (1986). When acting on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff." Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir.1993). A complaint must allege enough facts to state a claim for relief that is facially plausible. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Facial plausibility means that the facts pled "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.