News & Commentary written by Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux

Back to News & Commentary
A photo of Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux

Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux

Deputy Director

ACLU Voting Rights Project


Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux (@acepedaderieux) is the Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where he plans, manages, and helps direct the ACLU’s voting rights litigation efforts and strategy.

Adriel litigates voting rights cases nationwide, including challenges to racially discriminatory or dilutive redistricting and barriers to voting. He has led and worked on cases challenging discriminatory or otherwise unlawful voting laws and practices in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Texas, among others.

Adriel was instrumental in achieving victories at trial and at the U.S. Supreme Court in Department of Commerce v. New York and Trump v. New York—landmark cases that successfully blocked attempts to exclude or “undercount” noncitizens from the Census used to apportion Congress.

In the 2020 redistricting cycle, Adriel is ACLU’s lead counsel in South Carolina NAACP v. Alexander, a challenge to South Carolina’s congressional and state House maps. He is also part of the ACLU team litigating Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment, a case challenging a redistricting plan for Arkansas’s House of Representatives, which dilutes the voting strength of Black Arkansans.

Adriel also leads ACLU teams challenging suppressive voting practices in various jurisdictions. He leads the ACLU’s work representing community-based organizations in Hispanic Federation v. Byrd, a challenge to Florida’s S.B.7050 law, which excludes all noncitizens, including lawful permanent residents, from registering eligible voters. And he represents voting rights organizations in OCA-Greater Houston v. Nelson, a challenge to several provisions of Texas’s S.B.1 bill that make it more difficult for members of voting-rights organizations to vote—especially those with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English.

Adriel also led or co-led litigation that eased voting restrictions in Kentucky, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Texas for the 2020 elections. In Hotze v. Hollins, he successfully represented voting rights organizations and their members against efforts to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes cast in November 2020 in Harris County, Texas, the third largest county in the country.

Adriel is a frequent commentator and author on voting rights issues, and has been published in journals including the Yale Law & Policy Review and the Rutgers University Law Review. He is an adjunct lecturer in law at Columbia Law School.

Adriel is a leading advocate on issues related to the undemocratic problems concerning non-state jurisdictions like Washington D.C. and U.S. territories. He has written opinion pieces on Washington D.C. statehood for the Wall Street Journal, and his commentary on the rights of the residents of U.S. territories has been published in law reviews including the Yale Law Journal Forum and the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. He is counsel of record on briefs the ACLU has filed at the Supreme Court in cases involving the Constitution’s application in U.S. territories, including Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius and United States v. Vaello Madero.

Before joining the ACLU, Adriel was litigation counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. He was also a judicial law clerk, first, to Judge Juan R. Torruella, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and then to Judge Theodore A. McKee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Williams College.

Featured work