The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Maria Archuleta, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;

Supreme Court to Hear Voting Rights Act Challenge Wednesday, April 29

ACLU Represents Individual Affected by Oversight Provision


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:

More information of the work of the ACLU Voting Rights Project is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666