Voting Rights Institute
Four Evenings: June 24 – 27, 2013—6:00pm-9:00pm
The landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 is undoubtedly one of the most successful civil rights laws in our Nation’s history. It’s an important piece of national legislation that is still relevant today, with complexities constantly under scrutiny in state and federal court cases. With the Supreme Court poised to decide the constitutionality of the preclearance provisions of the Act in the Shelby County case, there is a potential for new developments in the field of voting rights law. Recent elections also have seen a rise in voter suppression and discriminatory voter identification laws. These developments call for a new generation of trained voting rights litigators.
A new Voting Rights Law Institute—co-sponsored by American University Washington College of Law and the Campaign Legal Center—will train and update law students and practitioners on enforcement of voting rights and election laws. In this four-night Institute June 24 - 27, experts will first lay the groundwork on the Voting Rights Act and relevant Supreme Court cases. Then, they will teach participants when and how to enforce voting rights through successful litigation. The Institute will feature instruction from Gerry Hebert, the Campaign Legal Center’s Executive Director & Director of Litigation, who will be joined each night by seasoned voting rights litigators, appellate advocates, and scholars in the field.
Participants will gain detailed knowledge of the Voting Rights Act and how it impacts voting rights laws state-by-state. The Institute will teach the skills needed to litigate voting rights cases. Lawyers and law students can register online for CLE, certificate or academic credit.
INSTITUTE OVERVIEW: Four Evenings—June 24 – 27, 2013 from 6:00pm-9:00pm
Understanding the Voting Rights Act
First Evening (6/24): Overview of Voting Rights Act
A synopsis of the Voting Rights Act, with a focus on Sections 2, 4 and 5; an overview of the issues and arguments in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder (which will either have been decided by then or will be decided that week).
Second Evening (6/25): A Look at Section 2, Prohibition on Voting Discrimination
Regarding Section 2, the following cases/legislation will be highlighted and discussed: the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act (overruling City of Mobile v. Bolden and establishing a totality of circumstances “results” test); Thornburgh v. Gingles; Johnson v. DeGrandy; and LULAC v. Perry; Growe v. Emison proving racially discriminatory intent under Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Corp.; the Texas redistricting cases (still pending) where the Court found intent; differing proof in Section 2 results cases and intent constitutional cases; and the First Amendment and proving partisan gerrymandering (in light of Vieth v. Jubelirer); Larios v. Cox (winning a political gerrymandering case by bringing a one-person, one-vote claim).
Bringing Voting Rights Cases to Court
Third Evening (6/26): Where and When to File
Mechanics of bringing lawsuits to enforce voting rights: whether to file in state court or federal court; how to ensure that plaintiffs have standing to sue (including associational standing issues that may arise); how to develop proof of discriminatory intent in discovery; overcoming claims of legislative privilege; how to prepare and keep under control expert witnesses in Voting Rights Act cases, including a primer on how to conduct an analysis of whether voting patterns are racially polarized (as required under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act).
Fourth Evening (6/27): Best Litigation Practices
Mechanics of bringing lawsuits to enforce voting rights: examination of best litigation practices in all stages of a case, both pre-trial and at trial: review of model pleadings, review of sample depositions, review of trial transcripts demonstrating best techniques of examining and cross-examining witnesses, and presenting evidence.
Wrap-up of all four classes with concluding overview of lessons from the week.
J. Gerald Hebert, Institute organizer, Executive Director & Director of Litigation, The Campaign Legal Center, Washington, D.C.
Gilda R. Daniels, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law
Armand Derfner, Attorney, Derfner, Altman & Wilborn, Charleston, SC
Chad W. Dunn, Partner, Brazil & Dunn, Houston, TX
Allan J. Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History at American University, Washington, D.C.
Nina Perales, Director of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
David Richards, Attorney, Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, Austin, TX
Paul M. Smith, Attorney, Jenner & Block, Washington, D.C.
Bruce V. Spiva, Founding Partner, The Spiva Law Firm, PLLC
Brenda Wright, Vice President of Legal Strategies, Demos, Boston, MA
The Voting Rights Institute is part of the law school's Summer Institute on Law and Government which addresses the most pressing legal issues of the day and the challenges of practicing law in Washington, D.C.