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


 

Election Law at the SU Law Library

Clinton, Cruz, Trump, Sanders, Kasich… these names are probably familiar to you, and this November it’s more than likely one of these individuals will be President. Election law determines America’s future. This week, in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a redistricting plan that the plaintiff’s argued was a result of partisan gerrymandering. And, earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court held line drawing can be done based on a state’s total population. Both opinions were unanimous. Does this sound confusing? Don’t fret, our law library has the resources to prepare you:

Election Law and Democratic Theory by David A. Schultz
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4886.S38 2014)
Publisher’s Description:

While numerous books and articles examine various aspects either of democratic theory or of specific topics in election law, there is no comprehensive book that provides a detailed and scholarly discussion of the political and democratic theory underpinnings of election law. Election Law and Democratic Theory fills this important gap, as author David Schultz offers a scholarly analysis of the political principles and democratic values underlying election law and the regulation of political campaigns and participants in the United States.

Bending Toward Justice : The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy by Gary May
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4893.M39 2013)
Publisher’s Description:

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.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a review of this work in The New York Review of Books titled “The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent”

America Votes! : A Guide to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights by Benjamin E. Griffith
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4886.A86 2012)
Publisher’s Description:

This book is a snapshot of America’s voting and electoral practices, problems, and most current issues. The book addresses a variety of fundamental areas concerning election law from a federal perspective such as the Help America Vote Act, lessons learned from the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, voter identification, and demographic and statistical experts in election litigation, and more. It is a useful guide for lawyers as well as law school professors, election officials, state and local government personnel, and election workers.

Race, Reform, and Regulation of the Electoral Process: Recurring Puzzles in American Democracy by Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Heather K. Gerken, & Michael S. Kang
Available at SU Law Library LAW-3rd Floor (JK1965.R33 2011)
Publisher’s Description:

This book offers a critical re-evaluation of three fundamental and interlocking themes in American democracy: the relationship between race and politics, the performance and reform of election systems, and the role of courts in regulating the political process. This edited volume features contributions from some of the leading voices in election law and social science. The authors address the recurring questions for American democracy and identify new challenges for the twenty-first century. They not only consider where current policy and scholarship is headed, but also suggest where it ought to go over the next two decades. The book thus provides intellectual guideposts for future scholarship and policymaking in American democracy.


 

The Constitution, Presidential Elections, and the Electoral College with Joaquin Avila

Social Justice Monday—November 2, 2015
Submitted by Justin Abbasi, Reference Librarian

Professor Joaquin Avila, a nationally recognized voting rights expert and advocate, educated us this Social Justice Monday on the origin of voting rights in the Constitution. He empowered us to think of new arguments to advance civil rights by focusing on the dark side of our Constitutional history and how far we’ve come. Voting rights exists within the compromises made to form our government–between the industrial Northern States and slave-holding Southern States.

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