The ACLU represents a group of individual and organizational interveners in the Department of Justice's case to uphold the VRA’s constitutionality.
The Voting Rights Act is a historic civil rights law that is meant to ensure that the right to vote is not denied on account of race or color.
Despite the gains we’ve made in ensuring increased voter participation of minority groups that have been historically disenfranchised, voter suppression persists and modern day tactics continue to target these groups.
Read more about the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court Case here.
The following experts are available for interviews on this Supreme Court case. To schedule an interview, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 549-2666 or (202) 675-2312.
Steven R. Shapiro has been the ACLU's Legal Director since 1993, and served as Associate Legal Director from 1987-1993. During that time, he has appeared as counsel or co-counsel on more than 200 ACLU briefs submitted to the United States Supreme Court.
Shapiro is also an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Columbia Law School, and a frequent speaker and writer on civil liberties issues. After graduating from Harvard Law School and spending one year as clerk to U.S. Judge J. Edward Lumbard of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Shapiro joined the New York Civil Liberties Union in 1976. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights First and the Policy Committee of Human Rights Watch, as well as the Advisory Committees of the U.S. Program and Asia Program of Human Rights Watch.
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Laughlin McDonald is director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and its Southern Regional Office, where he has worked since its inception in 1965. During the past two decades the office has focused on voting rights and has expanded its representation to include Native Americans in various western states and Alaskan Natives. McDonald has testified before Congress on civil rights and, in particular voting rights since 1981. He is the author of several articles and books including American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights (2010), A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia (2003). McDonald is also the recipient of numerous awards acknowledging his contribution to the field. He graduated from the University of Virginia Law School and Columbia University.
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Laura Murphy directs the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. She has met with leaders in the Unites States Congress and the Obama Administration to advance the ACLU’s public policy priorities on military tribunals, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), reproductive rights and civil rights, among other issues. Prior to her return, she founded and directed her own firm, Laura Murphy & Associates, L.L.C., where she utilized her 30 years of policy-making and political expertise to guide and advise corporate and non-profit clients at the national, state and local levels.
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Nancy Abudu is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. She litigates cases in federal and state courts and provides legal advice to ACLU affiliates and cooperating attorneys working with the ACLU pro bono. Abudu was previously a staff attorney with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and was an associate at Skadden, Arps in New York.
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Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, states like South Carolina that have a history of discriminatory voting laws must have changes to their laws approved, or pre-cleared, by the DOJ or a federal district court. The DOJ found that South Carolina’s discriminatory voter ID law would keep thousands of African American voters from the polls.
Florida recently sought pre-clearance from the Department of Justice and the District of Columbia federal court for several significant voting changes including cutting the number of early voting days and restricting voter registration. In August 2012, the federal court struck down the cuts to early voting, citing racial impact.
In a direct challenge to Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Austin utility district of Texas asked a federal court to declare Section 5 of the VRA unconstitutional. In May 2008, a federal district court soundly rebuffed the district's request. In August 2012, a U.S. District Court blocked Texas’ voter ID law, saying the law discriminated against minority voters.