The Petitions of the Week column highlights a selection of cert petitions recently filed in the Supreme Court. A list of all petitions we’re watching is available here.
Going to court is one way to enforce your civil rights if they are violated by a state official. As options go, though, it can be expensive. This week, we highlight cert petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, when a prevailing plaintiff in a civil-rights lawsuit can have their attorney’s fees paid by the state.
In 2019, Tennessee passed a law imposing a slew of restrictions on voter-registration drives. The state’s arm of the NAACP and other voting-rights groups filed a lawsuit against Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and other officials, challenging the measure as a violation of their First Amendment rights. A federal district court agreed to put the law on hold, allowing the groups to register voters for the 2020 election while the litigation continued.
Tennessee repealed the restrictions seven months later. The voting-rights groups agreed to dismiss the case, their purpose having been met. But they asked for their legal expenses racked up in bringing the suit to be covered by the state. The district court…