A court date has finally been set in a Voting Rights Act (VRA) lawsuit filed two years ago on behalf of Latinos in Yakima, Washington. On May 27, 2014, the U.S. District Court in Yakima will hear the case, which was brought under Section 2 of the VRA and filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Latinos comprise 41.3 percent of Yakima’s population, yet no Latino has ever been elected to the city council, which is made up entirely of at-large districts.
Section 2 cases are typically brought after a discriminatory voting law has been implemented. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision in June striking down Section 4 of the VRA, Section 2I is one of the few remaining tools to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.
Section 2 cases often involve lengthy legal battles and require large amounts of funding to sustain the long-term legal fees associated with such drawn out cases.
ON THE GROUND: Largest Alaska Native group says VRA decision begins “a new era in the struggle to protect the voices of Native voters.”
At the Alaska Federation of Natives’ (AFN) annual convention, AFN President Julie Kitka criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, noting that it ignores Alaska’s history of voter discrimination. She said, “The ensuing loosening of federal protections opens the door in Alaska to abuses, redistricting issues and worrisome legislation…”
Senator Lisa Murkowski, R. Alaska, who voted for VRA reauthorization in 2006, also addressed the convention.
The Alaska Federation of Natives is the largest organization of Native Alaskans in the state, comprising 178 villages, 13 regional Native corporations and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortia. As Kitka describes the activities at its conference this year, “our primary objective is to do everything in our power to maintain a strong and steady, unified voice for all Alaska Natives.”