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One year ago this Friday the LDF family lost our esteemed President and Director-Counsel John Payton. John’s early death was not only a loss for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, it was a loss for all who seek justice, are committed to the cause of civil and human rights, and struggle to make our democracy live up to its promises of fairness and equality for all. As President Barrack Obama noted at the time of his death, John was a “true champion of equality.”
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, another important voting case, in addition to Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, before the Court this term. This case involves whether Arizona’s Proposition 200, which requires new voter registrants to produce documentary evidence of United States citizenship, must yield to the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
Fifty years ago, on March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, which vindicated the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and required states to provide defense counsel to individuals accused of serious crimes and unable to afford a lawyer.
LDF Criminal Justice Project Director, Christina Swarns, speaks with David Martin Davies of Texas Public Radio on how racial bias influenced the death penalty sentence against Duane Buck. Her interview begins 15:33 minutes into this audio replay.
Today, the Maryland legislature voted to repeal its death penalty law. Once the Maryland Governor signs this legislation -- which he introduced -- into law, Maryland will become the sixth state in six years to acknowledge that capital punishment is a failed sentencing option. You can read more about it here.