Today, LDF filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in Petteway v. Galveston County, a case before the en banc Fifth Circuit that concerns the viability of coalition claims under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).  

This case raises critical questions about the nature and scope of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act: Specifically, whether plaintiffs may bring a vote dilution case on behalf of different racial groups when they share common social, economic, cultural, political, or other interests. The availability of these coalition claims are crucial to ensure that multiracial communities have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Against the weight of legal authority in other circuits and the force of stare decisis in the Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit, Appellants argue that plaintiffs may only bring a Section 2 claim on behalf of one racial group, even when the evidence before the court shows that members of two racial groups have shared interests and have endured similar types of discrimination and exclusion from the political process in the relevant jurisdiction. 

For decades, the Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit have considered vote dilution claims under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) on behalf of citizens comprised of a coalition of two or more racial groups. Fully aware of these cases, Congress has repeatedly declined to disturb these holdings or otherwise limit the availability of coalition claims. In Petteway v. Galveston County, appellants request that the en banc Court overturn the panel’s decision, the district court’s decision, and decades of precedent, setting itself against the weight of this Court’s own authority, the plain text of Section 2, the unambiguous legislative history, and the “special force” of statutory stare decisis. This approach is inconsistent with basic legal principles and disregards the realities of discrimination that the VRA is designed to remedy.