Voting Rights

  • August 24, 2016

    By Kevin Battersby Witenoff

    Julie Ebenstein at the ACLU Blog reports a federal court held the system currently in place for electing school board members in Ferguson, Mo. violates the Voting Rights Act and systematically disadvantages African-Americans.

    Days after issuing an injunction prohibiting the Education Department from enforcing antidiscrimination guidelines intended to protect transgender students, a lawsuit aiming to deny expanded access to medical care for transgender Americans has landed on the desk of Judge Reed O’Connor, writes The Editorial Board at The New York Times.

    Fiona Ortiz and Alistair Bell explain the consequences of a 2-1 decision from a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a law eliminating Ohio’s early voting period in an article for Reuters

    The Department of Justice submitted a brief to a class action law suit asserting the United States’ current bail system unfairly discriminates against the poor, reports Lauren C. Williams of Think Progress.

  • August 15, 2016

    By Kevin Battersby Witenoff

    The Seventh Circuit Court was unwilling to extend Title VII non-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation, reports George M. Patterson at The National Law Review

    David G. Savage at the Los Angeles Times reports North Carolina and Wisconsin lawyers are attacking gerrymandered electoral maps that ensure suppression of voters of particular races and party affiliation.

    The Editorial Board at The New York Times shares the difficulties of citizens in Sparta, Ga. who experience overt voter suppression reminiscent of Jim Crow.  

    After a report released by the Department of Justice exposed the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ failure to appropriately monitor and control regulations in for-profit prisons, Carl Takei reexamines their necessity in an op-ed for The Marshall Project

  • August 10, 2016
    Guest Post

    by: Niyati Shah and Archita Taylor, Election Counsels at Project Vote

    As many have already noted, this year will be the first presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In the absence of some of the VRA’s key provisions, particularly Section 5, voting rights advocates have engaged in lengthy lawsuits across the country to contest some of the most egregious offenders of federal election laws and the Constitution.

    Last week alone, courts struck at the heart of state laws diluting the franchise in three different states – North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. All three required a photo ID before casting a ballot. In each case, these laws were challenged under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, and Section 2 of the VRA. The Supreme Court requires that “[p]roof of racially discriminatory intent or purpose is required to show a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.” Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 265 (1977). Violations of Section 2 of the VRA can be established without showing discriminatory intent so long as plaintiffs show that the law has a discriminatory effect. Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 62 (1986).

    In the Texas case, while the Fifth Circuit found the Texas law had discriminatory impact, it nonetheless remanded to the lower court for a reevaluation of whether the law had discriminatory intent based on new criteria (the lower court had already found discriminatory intent after trial). Similarly, in Wisconsin, the district court initially held that the law violated both the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the VRA, but the Seventh Circuit reversed. Last week, on remand, the district court held that the state must allow voters who cannot obtain appropriate photo ID through reasonable efforts to cast a ballot with an affidavit. But in North Carolina, the Fourth Circuit however went much further, finding that the state legislature intended to discriminate against African American voters in violation of both the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the VRA. 

  • August 3, 2016

    By Kevin Battersby Witenoff

    Clare Foran in The Atlantic discusses the impact that a recently signed Massachusetts bill will have on eliminating gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

    The recent voting rights victories across the country are examined by Richard L. Hasen at The New York Times.

    Emily Badger of The Washington Post describes a type of overt housing discrimination that is still legal and unfairly targets the poor.

    Delaware’s death-penalty statute was found to be in violation of the Sixth Amendment reports Matt Ford of The Atlantic.

  • August 2, 2016

    By Kevin Battersby Witenoff

    In the Huffington Post, Michael Curtis reflects on the recent decision in North Carolina’s 4th Circuit Court and shares his belief that there is still hope that democratic ideas will prevail across the country.

    Citing a new report produced by the United Nations, Thaddeus Talbot uses the ACLU’s Blog to decry that our right to assembly is being eroded.

    Sarah Kliff explains that there is more to the gender wage gap than meets the eye in an article for Vox. She shares often overlooked contributions to the perpetual gap.

    In Slate, Zachary Roth highlights the recent major voting rights victories across the country and challenges us, and our courts, to go even further.