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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Supreme Court to Hear Voting Rights Act Challenge Wednesday, April 29
ACLU Represents Individual Affected by Oversight Provision
WASHINGTON - April 27 - On
Wednesday, April 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal brought
by a small municipal utility district in Austin, Texas challenging a
key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the landmark federal law
that ensured African-Americans and language minorities access to voting
booths across the South.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which intervened in the case, represents an African-American voter who lives in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One, the jurisdiction that brought the challenge. A number of other civil rights organizations are also participating in the lawsuit.
The Voting Rights Act provision, known as Section 5, requires certain jurisdictions that have a history of racial discrimination in voting to obtain advance permission from the federal government before changing their election laws. Congress overwhelmingly approved the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in the summer of 2006 and President Bush signed it into law. Yet, in a direct challenge to this crucial civil rights law, the Austin utility district asked a federal court to declare Section 5 unconstitutional.
In May 2008, a federal district court soundly rebuffed the district's request to have the provision declared unconstitutional.
U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder
Debo Adegbile of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will argue on behalf of the civil rights intervenors.
The Solicitor General's office will argue on behalf of the United States.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 10:00 a.m. EST
Supreme Court of the United States
East Capitol Street NE and 1st Street NE
More information on the case is available at: www.aclu.org/votingrights/
More information of the work of the ACLU Voting Rights Project is available at: www.votingrights.org