Former Justice Department Voting Section Chief Will also Serve on Policy Board
ALEXANDRIA, VA (March 30, 2015) — Civil rights attorney Christopher Coates, who formerly headed the Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, has joined the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) as General Counsel and as a member of the Policy Board.
Mr. Coates joins the most distinguished group of election law experts in the country. The ACRU has on its Policy Board former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, constitutional attorney Charles J. Cooper, former Assistant Solicitor General of the United States William Bradford Reynolds, former Justice Department Voting Section attorney J. Christian Adams, former Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky and former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.
A former ACLU attorney, Mr. Coates for years prosecuted voting rights cases involving discrimination against black, American Indian, and Hispanic voters as an attorney with the Department of Justice. In 2007, he was awarded the Walter W. Barnett Memorial Award, the Civil Rights Division’s second-highest award for excellence in advocacy. He incurred the wrath of liberal colleagues when he began working to protect the voting rights of white voters in Noxubee County, Mississippi in 2003 against a black political machine, a story told in detail in J. Christian Adams’ book Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department. The case, U.S. v. Brown, was the first case ever filed by the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act that challenged racial discrimination by minority election officials against white voters. While with the Justice Department, Mr. Coates was also involved in U.S. v. New Black Panther Party, a case that the Obama administration ultimately dismissed.
In 2012 and as an attorney in private practice, Mr. Coates was one of the attorneys who successfully represented the State of South Carolina in its defense of its voter photo ID law and is currently involved in the North Carolina photo ID case in which he represents amici parties supporting the State of North Carolina.
“We are determined to ensure that our most precious civil right — the right to vote and have it honestly counted — is not taken away,” said ACRU Chairman/CEO Susan A. Carleson. “The addition of Chris Coates gives the ACRU the strongest election integrity team in the nation.”
Along with Mr. Adams, Mr. Coates recently filed ACRU lawsuits in Mississippi and Texas that have resulted in historic consent decrees in federal courts requiring counties to clean up their dirty voter rolls by removing ineligible persons.