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The Power of Now
Leah C. Aden is a Senior Counsel. She joined LDF's staff in February 2012 as a NAACP LDF Fried Frank Fellow and her work includes representing Black people in a variety of legal actions, including challenges to discriminatory voting measures under the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Constitution, and state laws.
Leah was a member of LDF's litigation team in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a high-profile case in which, in a devastating opinion, the Supreme Court of the United States struck as unconstitutional the heart of the Voting Rights Act, effectively rendering Section 5's "preclearance" provision inoperable. Without Section 5's protections in place following the Shelby County decision, Leah has worked with other advocates to block voting changes that potentially are discriminatory including by: successfully urging Georgia to maintain early voting opportunities and Baker County, Georgia to maintain polling places. Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County, Leah successfully represented Black voters in South Carolina v. United States, in which a three-judge federal court rejected South Carolina's request to implement its discriminatory photo identification law for the 2012 Presidential election. Leah also represented Black voters in Texas v. Holder, in which a three-judge federal court blocked Texas's recent attempt to implement a discriminatory government-issued photo identification measure. Texas v. Holder was ultimately vacated by the Shelby County ruling. Leah now is a member of LDF's litigation team in United States, et al. v. Texas, et al, a challenge under a different provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2, to Texas's discriminatory photo ID measure.
Leah also represents Black voters in a Section 2 challenge to Fayette County, Georgia's at-large method of electing members to the County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education in Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, et al., v. Fayette County Board of Commissioners, et al. In that case, a federal judge and appellate court found that the substantial weight of evidence demonstrated that Fayette County's at-large electoral scheme, in combination with racially polarized voting, has prevented Black voters from ever electing a candidate of their choice to either board, in violation of Section 2. Under that same provision of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, Leah represents voters in a challenge to the at-large method for electing members to Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana's 32nd Judicial District parish court in Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP, et al. v. Jindal, et al. No Black candidate has ever been elected to the 32nd Judicial District Court after facing opposition from a white opponent because the at-large system of election, in combination with racial bloc voting, prevents Black voters in Terrebonne Parish from electing their preferred candidates of choice. In Beaufort, South Carolina, Leah has worked with local leaders to urge the city council to switch from at-large voting to district voting, given that no Black candidate has been elected to that important local body in more than twenty years despite that Black people have lived continuously in the City for more than three centuries. Leah also advocates for the abolition of prison-based gerrymandering, the practice of counting incarcerated people for redistricting purposes at their prison facility address rather than at their pre-incarceration home address; and felon disfranchisement laws, which prevent nearly 2 million Black people with felony convictions from participating in our democratic process. Leah regularly works with allies in various states to prepare Black voters to participate in federal, state, and local elections and speaks to media (print and radio), law students, civic organizations, sororities, and other audiences about issues related to Black voting rights. And Leah has contributed to amici briefs before the Supreme Court in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Evenwel v. Abbott and federal courts, such as in Davidson v. City of Cranston.
Prior to joining LDF, Leah was a litigation associate in the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP. At Fried Frank, Leah represented clients in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. She also previously served as a fellow at the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she focused on public education issues, including school desegregation and education adequacy litigation. Leah served as a law clerk to the Honorable John T. Nixon of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Leah received her J.D. from Howard University School of Law and B.A. in History and African-American Studies from Columbia University.