Baltimore Will Host Next Voting Rights Institute to Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers
On December 7, the Voting Rights Institute, a joint project of the Campaign Legal Center, the American Constitution Society (ACS) and Georgetown Law Center, will conduct a voting rights training session in Baltimore, Maryland. The ongoing Institute training sessions are designed to address the critical need for a new generation of voting rights lawyers, experts, and community activists. At the next session, hosted at the Baltimore offices of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, practitioners and law students will learn the ‘ins and outs” of protecting the right to vote through litigation. In particular, the training will focus on cases brought to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The training program will feature a panel of practitioners with decades of experience in the field of voting rights.
Experts in the field will first provide background on the Voting Rights Act and relevant federal court cases and then focus in on their lessons learned through their own experience. Also, the panel will discuss the Evenwel v. Abbott and Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission cases, which will be argued in the Supreme Court the next day. Campaign Legal Center Executive Director, J. Gerald Hebert, will serve as lead instructor and will be joined by several veteran voting rights litigators and advocates.
“With two voting rights cases before the Supreme Court this term, the need to train the next generation of voting rights litigators could not be more clear,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center. “The disastrous Shelby County decision in 2013, gutting a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has led to a new wave of laws undermining the right to vote and, consequently, a flood of litigation. Now is the time to replenish the ranks of voting rights lawyers with a new generation of litigators to face the challenges to the franchise that lay ahead. The Voting Rights Institute is meeting that challenge head on with instructors who are litigating today’s challenges in the courts and training new attorneys to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”
In addition to Mr. Hebert, the Institute’s faculty will include: Gilda Daniels (University of Baltimore School of Law), Julie Fernandes (Open Society Foundations) and Katherine Culliton-González (The Advancement Project).
Financial support for the Voting Rights Institute has been received from the MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund (rbf.org), Mertz Gilmore Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund.
The Voting Rights Institute at Georgetown Law offers opportunities for students, recent graduates and fellows to engage in voting rights work, including active litigation, and will train the next generation of attorneys and expert witnesses in the field of voting rights. The VRI will also maintain a website with information about voting rights matters available to the general public and a legal resources library for voting rights litigators and expert witnesses. The VRI will also promote increased local and national focus on voting rights through events, publications and the development of web-based tools; and provide opportunities and platforms for research and data base analysis of voting rights issues.
Voting Rights Institute training sessions held across the country since 2013 have instructed practitioners and law students on the ‘ins and outs’ of protecting the right to vote through the enforcement of voting rights laws. Cases brought to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution have been a particular focus of the trainings. Each session has featured a panel of instructors with decades of experience in the field of voting rights.
The first students in the Voting Rights Institute are currently enrolled in Georgetown Law’s Institute of Public Representation (IPR) and are working on several cases identified by the Campaign Legal Center and the American Constitution Society. The Institute has hired a clinical fellow to supervise students working on these cases and to manage legal matters within the Institute with a particular focus on voting rights issues. A legal fellow will also assist in developing training materials for voting rights lawyers and leaders, overseeing use of the Voting Rights Institute website, and identifying appropriate voting rights cases for the clinic.
To date, over 400 attendees representing a diverse group of attorneys, law students and voting rights advocates have taken part in these activities.