Voting Rights Institute Receives Prestigious MacArthur Grant


Grant Enables Lawyers, Advocates to Protect Voting Rights Nationwide 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today demonstrated its commitment to protecting voting rights by awarding a $1 million legacy grant to the Voting Rights Institute, a project of the American Constitution Society, Campaign Legal Center and the Georgetown University Law Center.

“We are incredibly grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for investing in this important work,” said Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. “The Voting Rights Institute is preparing the next generation of attorneys, experts and activists to preserve our democracy and protect the ability of all Americans to vote. By providing resources, litigating, educating, training and conducting new and original research, the VRI is growing the pool of voting rights attorneys and experts at this crucial time when they are needed the most. ”

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor said,  “I could not be more pleased and proud that the MacArthur Foundation has chosen to honor the Voting Rights Institute and its crucial mission with this generous grant,” “The motto at Georgetown Law is, ‘Law is but the means; justice is the end.’ And nowhere is the need for justice greater than when it comes to protecting and preserving the right to vote.”

ACS President Caroline Fredrickson said, “This grant represents the tireless commitment of countless individuals to the idea that every American should have a voice in our political system,” “The Voting Rights Act—one of the most effective pieces of legislation ever passed – may be hobbled, but our dedication to the underlying democratic principles will endure.”
The VRI, launched in 2014, was established in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which nullified a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The VRI offers opportunities for students, recent graduates and fellows to engage in litigation and policy work in the field of voting rights, and educates attorneys about the skills and best practices of voting rights advocacy. To date, the VRI has represented parties and filed friend-of-the-court briefs in a number of cases, including four in the U.S. Supreme Court this term alone.  Furthermore, the VRI has trained 400 attorneys, law students and voting rights advocates in 10 cities nationwide, with more trainings on the schedule for 2016.

As part of this effort, the VRI today proudly launches a new website,, which provides voting rights information to the public, resources for attorneys working on voting rights litigation (including expert witness documents and sample legal documents), and a tool for the public to report voting rights violations. It also provides updates on events, publications and other resources to elevate public awareness of changes to voting procedures, including problems implementing voter identification laws and voter registration restrictions.  The site leverages a technology platform developed by Pro Bono Net, which is used to support broad-based networks of legal aid, civil rights and pro bono lawyers.

Learn more about the Voting Rights Institute