Cooley Files SCOTUS Brief on Behalf of Former Governors Supporting Minority Voting Rights
San Francisco – July 25, 2022 – Cooley, alongside the States United Democracy Center and attorney Jonathan L. Williams, represented a group of former governors as they filed a friend of the court brief in Merrill v. Milligan and Merrill v. Caster (consolidated). Kathleen Hartnett, Adam Gershenson, Julie Veroff, Kimberley Bishop, Emily Born, Kristen Johnson and Kelly Murata led the Cooley effort.
The brief, signed by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, urges the US Supreme Court to uphold key portions of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) that protect minority voters from having their voting power diluted. The VRA forbids states and political subdivisions from drawing voting districts in ways that frustrate minority voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice – a practice commonly known as minority vote dilution.
The former governors highlight the importance of ensuring that minority voters, like all Americans, can elect candidates who will represent their interests. They implore the Supreme Court to uphold the precedent set in Thornburg v. Gingles in 1986, which maintains state and local autonomy over districting and requires the drawing of majority-minority districts only in limited circumstances.
“For decades, the Supreme Court has recognized that suppressing minority votes poses a grave threat to our representative government. The Court must now keep the integrity of the Voting Rights Act intact,” Whitman, now co-chair of the States United Democracy Center, said in a news release. “Our government functions of, by, and for the people, and that means every vote should carry equal weight in the ballot box.”
At issue in the case is whether Alabama’s 2021 district map for the US House of Representatives violates Section 2 of the VRA. A three-judge Alabama federal court concluded that the Alabama Legislature “packed” Black voters into one of seven congressional districts – diluting their voting power – and ordered the state to redraw the maps to include two majority-Black districts. Alabama appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case, with oral argument set for October 4, 2022.
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