VRA/REDISTRICTING Practice Area Rep Matters – Litigation
The firm also has extensive experience in litigating voting rights cases in the federal and state courts. For example:
- The firm has represented more than a dozen jurisdictions in suits under the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”), including, among others, the Tulare Local Healthcare District, the City of Anaheim, the City of Bellflower, the City of Compton, the City of Palmdale, the City of Santa Barbara, the City of Santa Clarita, the City of Whittier, the Santa Clarita Community College District, the Glendale Community College District, the Cerritos Community College District.
- The firm has also advised dozens more jurisdictions regarding their responses to possible or threatened litigation under the CVRA. As one example, it successfully guided the City of Los Banos through the process of submitting council districts to the City’s voters for approval, following a threat of CVRA litigation by local residents.
In Arizona Legislature v. Ariz. Independent Redistricting Comm’n, 576 U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 2652, 192 L. Ed. 2d 704 (2015), the firm filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of former California Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson & Arnold Schwarzenegger; the California Chamber of Commerce; Charles Munger, Jr.; and Bill Mundell, successfully arguing that the text, history and structure of the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution confirm the constitutionality of states giving authority over congressional redistricting to an independent commission; the majority opinion quoted (without attribution) a passage from the firm’s brief discussing the original meaning of the term “Legislature” as reflected in founding-era dictionaries.
- In Lopez v. Merced County, 473 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (E.D. Cal. 2007) & later unpublished opinions, the firm defeated multiple allegations that Merced County violated the “preclearance” provisions of Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act and ultimately obtained summary judgment in the County’s favor.
- In 2012, the firm represented Merced County in the first-ever successful “bailout” from Section 5 coverage in the State of California. Merced County was, by far, the largest jurisdiction ever to obtain bailout, covering the County itself, six cities, and nearly 100 school districts and special districts.
- In Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, 570 U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 2612, 186 L. Ed. 2d 651 (2013), the firm filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the County of Merced, California, in support of no party, pre-emptively defending the County’s recent bailout from Section 5 coverage against anticipated attack on the basis that the Department of Justice permitted the bailout to save Section 5.
- In League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399, 126 S. Ct. 2594, 165 L. Ed. 2d 609 (2006), the firm filed an amicus curiae brief successfully urging the Court to reject proposed rule that would have held voluntary mid-decade redistricting to be unconstitutional exercise of legislative authority.
- In 2003, we represented the City of Vista in connection with a USDOJ investigation of that jurisdiction under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. By conducting extensive independent analysis of demographic and voting patterns within that City, we ultimately persuaded USDOJ to end its investigation of the City of Vista, without filing suit.
- In 2001, Nielsen Merksamer represented the Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District in successfully defending against a Voting Rights Act suit filed by the Department of Justice against the District under Section 2.