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Broad Range of Groups Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Voting Rights Act

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Friday, February 1, 2013

(Washington, D.C.) On February 1, 2013, a broad and diverse range of friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, an important case that challenges the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in the United States Supreme Court. The briefs are available here.

Among the wide-ranging groups weighing in with briefs in support of the Act are jurisdictions subject to the Voting Rights Act’s coverage, bipartisan federal and state elected officials, voting experts, former Department of Justice officials, local and national civil rights organizations, grassroots, civic, religious and labor organizations, law professors, and others. Together, the more than two dozen friend-of-the-court briefs urge the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the heart of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5, which requires places with the worst histories of voting discrimination to receive federal approval before their voting changes can be enacted.  

“The Voting Rights Act has played a key role in protecting our democracy and ensuring the vitality of the right of minorities to vote and fully participate in the political process,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Director-Counsel and President.  “The briefs filed today attest to the recognition by citizens and leaders of every race and political affiliation throughout this country that, despite decades of hard-won progress, the Voting Rights Act remains a critically important bulwark against ongoing discriminatory voting measures.”

“Through an unbroken line of cases, the Supreme Court has 4 times upheld the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. As these briefs make clear, the Supreme Court’s longstanding Voting Rights Act precedent compels that it stays the course in this case,” said Debo P. Adegbile of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Counsel of Record for several defendant-intervenors, including five Black ministers and a Black elected official from Shelby County whose city council seat was eliminated and later restored because of the VRA.  Mr. Adegbile defended Section 5 last time it was before the Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case on February 27, 2013.

Read NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s brief on behalf of defendant-intervenors.