Access to Justice

Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder

At issue in NAMUDNO v. Holder was whether the appellant is eligible to bail out from the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and whether Congress provided sufficient justification of current voting discrimination when extended the requirement in 2006 for another twenty-five years.

Case Summary

Faced with the prospect of invalidating one of our nation’s most important and iconic civil rights laws – renewed in 2006 with overwhelming support across the political spectrum – the Supreme Court on June 22, 2009, backed one step away from a very steep cliff. You can read our analysis of the Supreme Court’s opinion on Text & History.

The Supreme Court heard arguments for NAMUDNO v. Holder on April 29, 2009. Read our news release and post-argument analysis from Text & History.

Background: On March 25, 2009, Constitutional Accountability Center filed a brief in the Supreme Court supporting the United States and a coalition of civil rights organizations in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder (NAMUDNO), a case in which a utility district in Texas has challenged Congress’s 2006 decision to reauthorize a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of our country’s most important civil rights laws. CAC’s brief argues that the text and history of the Reconstruction Amendments show that these Amendments were intended to provide Congress with the tools to effectively protect fundamental rights, including the right to vote secured by Congress’ extension of the Voting Rights Act. As CAC’s brief demonstrates, our Reconstruction Framers made their intent to vest Congress with broad power to enact “appropriate legislation” abundantly clear in the debates over the Fourteenth Amendment, which was written to provide Americans with a “shield of national protection.”

CAC’s co-counsel on the NAMUDNO brief is Cliff Sloan, a partner at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and prominent author.

Case Timeline

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