A privacy rights group is the latest plaintiff to lose a challenge to President Donald Trump’s voter integrity commission.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit known as EPIC, filed a lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity July 3, asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the commission from seeking personal voter data from states. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the District of Columbia, ruled that while the group has standing to bring the lawsuit, it’s unlikely to succeed on the merits.
“Although plaintiff has won the standing battle, it proves to be a pyrrhic victory,” the judge wrote in her decision Monday, referencing the fact that though EPIC won its standing argument, but is unlikely to succeed on the claims it has standing to bring.
It’s the third time Kollar-Kotelly has ruled for the voting commission this month. In two separate but similar rulings last week, she declined to block the commission’s first meeting, which took place July 19. Those lawsuits were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction without prejudice in both instances.
In Monday’s decision, the judge ruled EPIC had “informational standing” to bring the case because the group satisfied two criteria. First, it proved it was deprived of information that, according to its interpretation, it’s entitled to under a statute. Second, EPIC showed it suffered the type of harm Congress intended to prevent by requiring the information’s disclosure in the first place.
The judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order without prejudice, giving EPIC a chance to file another lawsuit if circumstances change.
EPIC claimed the voting commission failed to conduct a privacy impact statement as required by the E-Government Act before soliciting voter information from the states. The judge said that law does not provide for a cause of action. The plaintiffs also sued under the Administrative Procedure Act, but the judge ruled the director of White House information technology, which manages the data collection program, is not a federal agency for the purposes of that law.
EPIC president Marc Rotenberg said the group will continue to scrutinize the commission’s practices.
“EPIC will push forward,” Rotenberg said in a written statement. “The commission cannot evade privacy obligations by playing a shell game with the nation’s voting records.”