Morrison & Foerster’s Steve Kaufmann, a financial services litigation partner based in Washington, D.C., was recently honored by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law as a “Best New Board Member.” Mr. Kaufmann and his co-recipient, the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, were presented with this prestigious award during the committee’s 2018 Annual Awards Reception in New York on December 5.
The late Bob Raven, a Morrison & Foerster alumnus and former president of the American Bar Association, served as a member and leader of the Board for many years—a tradition continued by Mr. Kaufmann as well as current San Francisco partner Jack Londen and retired New York partner Chet Kerr.
Mr. Kaufmann has over 25 years’ experience in commercial litigation, government enforcement, and class action trial disputes. In the recently concluded Action NC v. Strach, he joined the Lawyers’ Committee, other voter rights organizations, and individual citizens in challenging North Carolina’s non-compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
Recognizing that voting is a fundamental right, the NVRA establishes procedures intended to increase the number of eligible, registered voters in federal elections. In filing the suit, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants—a group of state officials, public assistance programs, and motor vehicle services—were in violation of Sections 5 and 7 of the NVRA for failing to provide federally mandated registration opportunities, and leaving voters off the registration rolls who registered through the DMV or Social Services.
The case resulted in the U.S. District Court judge ordering the state to take actions to ensure that certain citizens who registered through DMVs were able to cast a provisional ballot that would count on Election Day. In the face of widespread voter suppression and discrimination, the court’s decision led to an additional 1,500 votes being counted in the 2016 election in the state of North Carolina. The case also resulted in the State agreeing to substantial systemic improvements to its voter registration programs.
The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to eradicating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity. Founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy, the organization enlists the leadership and resources of the private bar to support efforts relating to election integrity and voter rights, civil rights enforcement, and discrimination within the criminal justice system.
Read more about the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.