President Trump’s voting integrity commission fired back at critics Wednesday, saying the Supreme Court has never recognized a constitutional right to “informational privacy” that would prevent the panel from collecting and studying voter registration data from all 50 states.
In court filings, the Justice Department and integrity commission Vice Chairman Kris W. Kobach also said the panel has taken solid steps to prevent information from being hacked, and said they have no plans to release most voters’ information to the public.
Mr. Kobach last week asked states to provide names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, voter history, military status and prior felony convictions. He said only information that is public record needs to be submitted.
But his letter spurred a feverish backlash, with both Democratic and Republican officials saying they will refuse to cooperate. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also went to court in Washington, D.C., arguing the panel broke privacy laws and didn’t have safeguards to protect the information should state officials provide it.
The Justice Department said the lawsuit was misguided.
“EPIC’s claim of a constitutional right to informational privacy fails because neither the Supreme Court nor the D.C. Circuit has held that a federal constitutional right to informational privacy exists,” the government’s lawyers said.
They went on to say that even if such a right did exist, it wouldn’t apply in this case because Mr. Kobach has only asked for publicly available information, meaning states can refuse to share data that they don’t already share with others.
“Because the Commission has only requested public information from the states, EPIC could never show that a constitutional right to informational privacy – even if it were to exist – has been violated,” the lawyers said.
U.S. District Judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly has fast-fracked the EPIC lawsuit.