Social Justice Monday – Election 2016: Its Aftermath and the Continuing Need for Washington’s Voting Rights Act

Social Justice Monday – Election 2016: Its Aftermath and the Continuing Need for Washington’s Voting Rights Act

November 21, 2016

Last Tuesday’s election was the first since the United States Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula used to determine the preclearance requirement of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder, 133 S.Ct. 2612 (2013). Prior to the decision, states which had a history of discriminating against minority voters were required to preclear changes to state voting laws. In the wake of the Shelby decision, several states added voter ID requirements and reduced the number of voting venues, which could have impacted voter turnout.

The Shelby decision left intact section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in certain minority language groups. Washington has yet to pass its own Voting Rights Act.

David Perez, is the co-author of the state complement to Section 2 in the proposed legislation, and is also a civil rights litigator. David offered an early report on the 2016 election and assessed the continued need for a state Voting Rights Act to protect and ensure representation of minority voters and communities. While the numbers are still being crunched, he also commented on local, state, and national turnout and their implications for our democracy.

David Perez is a former Korematsu Fellow, an attorney at Perkins Coie, and a litigator whose practice focuses on constitutional law, consumer protection, class actions, intellectual property, and unfair competition. As part of his practice, David regularly counsels entrepreneurs, high-growth technology startups and established companies. In addition to presenting over 20 arguments at the trial level, David has substantial appellate experience, briefing cases at all levels of state and federal government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has argued successfully in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Washington Court of Appeals. Each year since 2013, David has been named a “Rising Star” in Washington Law and Politics. Maintaining an active pro bono practice, David focuses on issues related to civil rights, constitutional law and voting rights. David received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Gonzaga University.

Interested in learning more? Check out these books from the law library:

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The Voting Rights Act: Securing the Ballot

Edited by:
Richard M. Valelly

Law Library LAW-3rd Floor (JK1924.V68 2006)

When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965, he explained that “[t]his act flows from a clear and simple wrong…Millions of Americans are denied the vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify.”

Now, in the fortieth anniversary year of its passage, readers can learn about the history, impact, and significance of this landmark event through the dynamic pairing of essays and primary source documents that define CQ Press’s Landmark Events in U.S. History Series. The fifth volume in this award-winning collection, The Voting Rights Act, explores the origin, development, and consequences of this landmark legislation, and shows how its legacy continues to shape many aspects of U.S. government and politics.

Eminent scholars who have particular expertise in the subjects addressed write the insightful essays contained in this volume. Following these essays are related primary sources from the late nineteenth century to the present that add a dynamic “you are there” immediacy to the coverage. Readers will find excerpts from relevant Supreme Court cases, key civil rights speeches and legal documents, and excerpts from speeches, hearings, and other documents related to the Voting Rights Act. Each document includes helpful head notes that give valuable context.

As with all volumes in the Landmark Events in U.S. History Series, The Voting Rights Act presents a thorough and balanced treatment of a major historical event. The uniquely engaging approach will bring to life the history and significance of the Voting Rights Act for a wide range of library patrons, including high school and college-level students, as well as general readers and researchers looking for coverage of major U.S. events that is as interesting as it is informative. – From the Publisher


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Colorblind Injustice: Minority Voting Rights and the Undoing of the Second Reconstruction

J. Morgan Kousser

Law Library LAW-Culp Collection (3rd Floor-Range A) JK1924.K68 1999

Challenging recent trends both in historical scholarship and in Supreme Court decisions on civil rights, J. Morgan Kousser criticizes the Court’s “postmodern equal protection” and demonstrates that legislative and judicial history still matter for public policy.

Offering an original interpretation of the failure of the First Reconstruction (after the Civil War) by comparing it with the relative success of the Second (after World War II), Kousser argues that institutions and institutional rules–not customs, ideas, attitudes, culture, or individual behavior–have been the primary forces shaping American race relations throughout the country’s history. Using detailed case studies of redistricting decisions and the tailoring of electoral laws from Los Angeles to the Deep South, he documents how such rules were designed to discriminate against African Americans and Latinos.

Kousser contends that far from being colorblind, Shaw v. Reno (1993) and subsequent “racial gerrymandering” decisions of the Supreme Court are intensely color-conscious. Far from being conservative, he argues, the five majority justices and their academic supporters are unreconstructed radicals who twist history and ignore current realities. A more balanced view of that history, he insists, dictates a reversal of Shaw and a return to the promise of both Reconstructions. – From the Publisher


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Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy

Gary May

Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4893.M39 2013)

A gripping biography of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, tracing its creation and showing how its historic provisions are threatened today.

When the Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 granted African Americans the right to vote, it seemed as if a new era of political equality was at hand. Before long, however, white segregationists across the South counterattacked, driving their black countrymen from the polls through a combination of sheer terror and insidious devices such as complex literacy tests and expensive poll taxes. Most African Americans would remain voiceless for nearly a century more, citizens in name only until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act secured their access to the ballot.

In Bending Toward Justice, celebrated historian Gary May describes how black voters overcame centuries of bigotry to secure and preserve one of their most important rights as American citizens. The struggle that culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act was long and torturous, and only succeeded because of the courageous work of local freedom fighters and national civil rights leaders—as well as, ironically, the opposition of Southern segregationists and law enforcement officials, who won public sympathy for the voting rights movement by brutally attacking peaceful demonstrators. But while the Voting Rights Act represented an unqualified victory over such forces of hate, May explains that its achievements remain in jeopardy. Many argue that the 2008 election of President Barack Obama rendered the act obsolete, yet recent years have seen renewed efforts to curb voting rights and deny minorities the act’s hard-won protections. Legal challenges to key sections of the act may soon lead the Supreme Court to declare those protections unconstitutional.

A vivid, fast-paced history of this landmark piece of civil rights legislation, Bending Toward Justice offers a dramatic, timely account of the struggle that finally won African Americans the ballot—although, as May shows, the fight for voting rights is by no means over. – From the Publisher


Social Justice Monday: Who is a Terrorist?

Social Justice Monday: Who is a Terrorist?: The Legal, Legislative, and Social Impacts of a Powerful Label

Social Justice Monday–March 28, 2016

Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant 

Terrorism is a frightening concept, and it can seemingly strike closer-to-home each passing day. Terrorists seem like a monolithic and dangerous “other.” However, the reality is tremendously complex. The root causes of terrorism are elusive.  Identifying them is difficult and contentious. Despite this, the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” are used with great frequency to powerful legal and social effect. This begs the question: can we define terrorism? How does current law actually define terrorism? Is the definition appropriate? What are the broader impacts of this definition on the public, the media, and the legislative process?  The answers to these questions are difficult and fraught with social and political consequence, especially for Muslims and Arab-Americans.

This Social Justice Monday Professor John McKay, Sharia Law Scholar Salah Dandan, and former FBI Special Agent Charlie Mandigo engaged in a discussion about the legal, legislative and social impacts of the “terrorist” label.  The panel was moderated by 1L Scholar for Justice Ben Halpern-Meekin.

Interested in learning more? Here are some related ebooks available from the Law Library:

Researching terrorism, peace and conflict studies : interaction, synthesis and opposition

Full Text Online

From the Publisher:

“This book examines potential synergies between the fields of Terrorism Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies.

The volume presents theoretically- and empirically-informed contributions, which shed light on whether the two fields can inform each other on issues of mutual interest and importance. The book examines key themes including the conceptualisation(s) of peace and violence; the exceptionalisation of terrorist violence; the relationship between scholarship and political power; the dysfunctionality of the liberal peace and the opportunities offered by post-liberal peacebuilding frameworks; and the implications and challenges of cyber-terrorism and cyber-conflict. Furthermore, the book intends to be a launching pad for future debate on whether the recent ‘critical’ turn in terrorism studies can offer a pathway for peace studies to engage with the so far largely ignored question of power.

Consisting of not only key scholars but also practitioners and policy makers, the contributors present a number of case studies, including Colombia, Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and Iraq, where they explore the relationships between terrorism and peace and conflict approaches. They critically analyse the statist approach inherent in both terrorism approaches and liberal peacebuilding frameworks; the role of the grassroots levels of society; the inefficiency of simplistic frameworks of understanding and implementation; and the chains of governance from international (and transnational) actors to national actors and finally from national to local actors.”


Terror and Performance

Full Text Online

“In this exceptional investigation Rustom Bharucha considers the realities of Islamophobia, the legacies of Truth and Reconciliation, the deadly certitudes of State-controlled security systems and the legitimacy of counter-terror terrorism, drawing on a vast spectrum of human cruelties across the global South. The outcome is a brilliantly argued case for seeing terror as a volatile and mutant phenomenon that is deeply lived, experienced, and performed within the cultures of everyday life.”


Cultural Messaging in the U.S. War on Terrorism A Performative Approach to Security

Full Text Online

From the Publisher:

“Sylvia focuses on the impact of the “If You See Something, Say Something” advertising campaign in the New York City subway system. She demonstrates how ideas regarding security and terrorism are socially constructed; it shows how the narrative of the war on terrorism as a political project was linked to the narrative of a local urban security campaign. Her thesis suggests that this advertising campaign perpetuates the politics of fear connected to the greater war on terrorism and that this advertising campaign is a mechanism of social control. Sylvia’s research draws upon and supports Michel Foucault’s understanding of governmentality.”


From Elle Woods to Elena Kagan: Challenges to Stereotypes of Women in the Legal Profession

Social Justice Monday—October 26, 2015
Submitted by Justin Abbasi, Reference Librarian

Over the past few decades, women have entered the legal field in much higher numbers. However, the salary disparity between men and women remains and is just one indicator that the legal profession still has strides to make toward equality. In 2012, a blue-ribbon Task Force on Gender Equity was created by the American Bar Association. The task force found that the attrition of women from law firms remains disproportionately high, and a contributing factor is the gender pay gap. However, the ABA study reveals a far more nuanced explanation.  The gender gap is not only in pay but also in leadership positions.

Attorneys Kara Morse, Maren Norton, and Janet Chung (a former SU legal writing professor) shared their experience and offered advice this Social Justice Monday. They discussed the many different factors that create implicit gender bias in the legal field including maternity leave and family and career juggling. If you’re interested in learning more, here are some resources in the law library:

Women Attorneys and the Changing Workplace: High Hopes, Mixed Outcomes
Phyllis Kitzerow
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF299.W6K58 2014)

Publisher’s Description:

“A half-century ago, women comprised only a tiny fraction of practicing attorneys. Today, nearly half of law school graduates are female. Phyllis Kitzerow explores the experiences of women in the legal profession over the past fifty years, charting the sometimes surprising impact of shifting social norms on pathways to professional and personal success. Kitzerow contrasts the experiences of women across generations, showing how the backgrounds and expectations of each cohort―from the pioneers of the 1960s to women starting out today―have played out in the evolving legal profession. Her analysis offers important lessons on a range of contentious work-related issues, on the meanings of success, and on the ways that individuals make the best of the options available to them.”

Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Fortune 500 Legal Departments
American Bar Association, Commission on Women in the Profession
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF299.M56A44 2013)

Publisher’s Description:

“While all women attorneys continue to confront obstacles in their effort to advance and succeed in the profession, this is particularly true for women attorneys of color, who face the “double bind” of both race and gender. The ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession has focused much-needed attention on the unique challenges faced by women attorneys of color through its Visible Invisibility research initiative, which was launched in 2003. Its groundbreaking 2006 study examined the experiences of women attorneys of color in law firms, and this important initiative has been continued by turning the spotlight on women of color in corporate law departments. Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Fortune 500 Legal Departments focuses on the experiences of women attorneys, particularly women of color, in Fortune 500 corporate legal departments as they go through the four major aspects of an attorney’s career: recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement.”

Legally Mom: Real Women’s Stories of Balancing Motherhood & Law Practice
Anne Murphy Brown
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF299.W6B76 2012)

Publisher’s Description:

“Every year, more and more women lawyers face a heartrending challenge: how do you balance having a child with a thriving legal career? While there have certainly been giant strides in the number of firms and companies that offer flexible hours, part-time opportunities, and other options for their working lawyer-moms, it’s still difficult for women with small children to make the same amount of money and be on the same advancement track as their male colleagues. Legally Mom profiles the lives of more than twenty women practicing law at different stages of their career and with varied ages of children. This collection brings together a selection of deeply felt, personal narratives by smart, interesting women who explore the continued inequality of the sexes in law practice and suggest changes that could make firms more family friendly workplaces.”

Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know About a Career in the Law
Susan Smith Blakely
Available at SU Law Library LAW-Reserve (KF299.W6B59 2009)

Publisher’s Description:

“Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law addresses the realities of law firm practice, especially in large firms, and gives pre-law students, law students, and new attorneys a realistic view of the opportunities and challenges most often encountered by women lawyers. Drawing on her many years of practicing law and mentoring young lawyers and with the help of other women in all areas of the legal profession, her “best friends at the bar”, Susan Smith Blakely strives to help young women entering the legal profession begin their careers with open eyes and a more level playing field than women lawyers of past generations.”

Reaching the Bar: Stories from Women at All Stages of their Law Careers
Robin Sax
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF299.W6R43 2009)

Publisher’s Description:

“Women account for 30% of the 1.14 million attorneys currently practicing in the U.S., and in 2007, 48% of all juris doctor degrees were awarded to women. Despite the growing appearance of women at the bar, the law is still a profession dominated by older white men. While some of the challenges an aspiring lawyer faces are the same regardless of gender, other issues are particular hurdles for woman attorneys. Reaching the Bar provides the perspectives of women lawyers to their peers and to women just getting started in their legal careers. From their first torts class to their final case studies, women at law have to make choices about what specialty degrees to pursue, whether or when to have children, and how they are going to respond to sexism in the workplace and the courtroom. These books provide a forum for women at all levels to describe and examine those choices Reaching the Bar features stories from each stage of a lawyer’s career – beginning with the law school students and clerks, through the corporate stages from junior associate to senior partner, then on to late-stage careers like judges or professors. Reaching the Bar blends inspirational, funny and dramatic stories, with the constant theme of seasoned women looking back at their experiences and sharing what they’ve learned.”


New and Notable: Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical justice

Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice  Lisa Blee
E99.N74L473 2014

From the Publisher: In 1855 in the South Puget Sound, war broke out between Washington settlers and Nisqually Indians. A party of militiamen traveling through Nisqually country was ambushed, and two men were shot from behind and fatally wounded. After the war, Chief Leschi, a Nisqually leader, was found guilty of murder by a jury of settlers and hanged in the territory’s first judicial execution. But some 150 years later, in 2004, the Historical Court of Justice, a symbolic tribunal that convened in a Tacoma museum, reexamined Leschi’s murder conviction and posthumously exonerated him. In Framing Chief Leschi, Lisa Blee uses this fascinating case to uncover the powerful, lasting implications of the United States’ colonial past … challenges readers to consider whether liberal legal structures can accommodate competing narratives and account for the legacies of colonialism to promote social justice today.