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


History of Voting Exhibit

Come and visit the library’s History of Voting Exhibit, located on the 2nd floor. This exhibit provides information relating to the gradual expansion of voting rights as well as an overview of the technology of voting.