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Austin meeting shines spotlight on voting rights

Legal issues surrounding voting rights will take center stage at the ABA Midyear Meeting, which takes place Feb. 11-17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. The winter gathering features several hundred legal programs and events, and presentations by America’s foremost law experts and speakers. Of note are four programs that explore voting rights that coincide with celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed and protected women’s right to vote.

The ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin will include several programs on recent developments that affect voting rights.

The ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin will include several programs on recent developments that affect voting rights.

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A plenary on Friday, Feb. 14, at 1:50 p.m., will showcase how state, local and specialty bars and the ABA are recognizing the anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which gave American men of every race and color the right to vote.

A panel of experts will explore modern-day residency requirements and moral character tests that continue to bar homeless people, students and those with criminal convictions or awaiting pre-trial detention from voting. This CLE, called “One Person (N)one Vote: Gerrymandering with the Help of the Disenfranchised,” is presented by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice at 3:15 p.m. The implications of these voting policies on accurate census counts and redistricting will be among the issues discussed.

At 4 p.m., Judge Eva Guzman of the Supreme Court of Texas will join other public officials to discuss experiences and challenges women face in seeking elected office and the importance of women bringing their perspective to leadership at the local, state and national level in the Present & Powerful Speaker Series program, “Vote. Run. Lead. 100 Years of Women in Politics.”

On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 9:45 a.m., the Judicial Division will examine “The Disenfranchised Among Us,” and explore the barriers that prevent citizens otherwise entitled to vote in U.S. elections, including an ongoing court case involving Native Americans and others without street addresses who have trouble voting under new voter ID laws.

That afternoon at 4:15 p.m., a panel of legal scholars will delve into a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in “From Separate but Equal to Affirmative Action: Where are We 70 Years after Sweatt v. Painter?” They will discuss the progress – or lack thereof – in advancing systemic support for aspiring African-American lawyers who choose to attend law school, as well as equity in school funding.

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