CAC Celebrates U.S. District Court Decision Upholding Voting Rights Act

Washington, DC –  This morning, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia – an appointee of President George W. Bush – issued a welcome and thoroughgoing rebuke of a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Alabama.  Judge Bates’ comprehensive 151-page opinion rejected Shelby County’s challenge to the Act’s preclearance requirement, and is the first decision to consider the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 opinion in NAMUDNO v. Holder, which left that question open.  Today, Judge Bates echoed arguments made by Constitutional Accountability Center in its “friend of the court” brief, recognizing “the preeminent constitutional role of Congress under the Fifteenth Amendment to determine the legislation needed to enforce it.” 

David Gans, Director of CAC’s Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program, said, “Today is a victory for the right to vote, a right at the core of the Constitution’s text and history.  The Framers of the Fifteenth Amendment gave Congress broad powers to make sure that the right to vote was actually available to all Americans without regard to race.”  Gans continued, “Analyzing Congress’s 15,000 –page record of continued racial discrimination, Judge Bates correctly concluded that the Voting Rights Act – one of our most iconic pieces of civil rights legislation – fell squarely within this power. Judge Bates respectfully considered the arguments for striking down the Act’s requirements raised in NAMUDNO, but concluded that they were inconsistent with the deference due to Congress’s express constitutional powers to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.”

“The group bankrolling Shelby County’s lawsuit announced its intent to support an appeal before the ink was dry on Judge Bates’ opinion, but today’s powerful and thorough ruling by a conservative judge provides a roadmap for higher courts to uphold rather than call into question this critical civil rights statute,” Gans said. 



CAC’s “friend of the court” brief, defending Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act based on the text and history of the Fifteenth Amendment, filed in Shelby County v. Holder

The Shield of National Protection,” CAC’s narrative on Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Release from the Project on Fair Representation (via Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog):


Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.


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