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Winter 2012 - Vote



Civil Rights & Constitution

What is Next for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?

The Amici States urge this Court to uphold the constitutionality of the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Any as-sertion that Section 5 constitutes an undue intrusion on state sovereignty does not withstand scrutiny. Section 5 does not place an onerous burden on States. States have been able to comply with Section 5 without undue costs or expense. More importantly, Section 5 has produced substantial benefits within the Amici States and our Nation as a whole.

Civil Rights & Constitution

Redistricting in the Post-2010 Cycle Lessons Learned?

After each decennial federal census, state and local governments across the country begin the process of redrawing their congressional districts, state legislative seats, and local governing bodies to accommodate population shifts. All state and local redistricting plans must comport with federal limitations, most notably constitutional equal population requirements and the Voting Rights Acts (VRA) of 1965, as amended. Unless constrained by state constitutional or statutory requirements, state and local governments have wide latitude to develop and apply their own redistricting criteria. In practice, however, few state laws set more rigorous standards than those already required under federal law.

Civil Rights & Constitution

Interview with Lawrence Baca: Thurgood Marshall Award Winner

Doing what he has always done, instinctively and well—battling stereotypes—Lawrence Baca is the Lone Ranger, not Tonto. The self-described “beach Indian” is far from laid-back when it comes to pursuing justice, never shying from a fight for what is right and often standing alone at the leading edge of crusades for change—from challenging racialized mascots in high school, to founding his college Indian organization, to becoming the first American Indian ever hired through the Department of Justice Honor Program, to filing more cases on behalf of American Indians than any other attorney in the history of the Civil Rights Division. His cases include several of great import for Indian voting rights and the “Brown v. Board of Indian Country.” He literally changed the face of the Justice Department, both by his example and recruiting efforts, and he is a charming fellow and gifted photographer to boot. It’s our pleasure to both celebrate and introduce you to Lawrence Baca.

Civil Rights & Constitution

Heroes of the Struggle for Voting Rights

The right to vote is a fundamental pillar of our democratic system. But it is worth remembering that giving meaning to the right to vote has been a long, hard struggle to which many people have devoted their lives and for which some have lost their lives throughout our history. For much of our history, the right to vote was limited to property-owning and/or taxpaying white men. Women, African Ameri-cans, American Indians, and immigrants were shut out in most parts of the country and in the Constitution, which largely left voting rights to the states.