J. Gerald Hebert
- Jul 27, 2007
When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning, vote caging by the Republican Party and the related actions and inactions by the Department of Justice (DOJ) deserve careful examination. When former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified before Congress last month, he offered to have DOJ look into the issue of vote caging (“If you’re raising with me as Deputy Attorney General the question of caging votes, I’m very happy to work with you on that concern.”). It would be interesting to ask the Attorney General for a progress report on how the DOJ review/inquiry into vote caging is going.
- Aug 8, 2008
In the coming weeks, I plan to lay out in some expanding detail the rights of voters to bring cases under the anti-intimidation statute of the Voting Rights Act: Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act (42 U.S. C. 1973i(b)). Today, I begin by examining the relevant legislative history of the statute and the legal standard for bringing cases under Section 11(b). In future postings, I will discuss the type of conduct that has been deemed to be prohibited under Section 11(b), standing to bring suit to enforce the provision, and the type of relief that may be sought in order to provide effective relief.
- Aug 15, 2008
In my first posting on voter intimidation, I set forth the legal standard for bringing cases under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act and set forth references to legislative history that make it clear that proof of intent is not required to establish a violation. Voter intimidation remains a problem facing voters across the country and Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act could become an important enforcement tool this fall.
- Aug 10, 2010
Floridians' chance to curb partisan gerrymanders is once again in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court. After decades of partisan abuse of the redistricting process, citizens simply want the chance to vote on two ballot initiatives to end the practice that for decades has enabled politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing politicians. But politicians aren't about to give up that advantage without a fight — and that fight is now before the state's highest court.
- Aug 12, 2010
Voting rights groups and Department of Justice officials are as puzzled as I am why financially strapped local governments throughout Virginia are not seeking a bailout under the Voting Rights Act. After all, last year the U.S. Supreme Court opened the bailout door as wide as it could while leaving the Voting Rights Act intact.
- Jun 27, 2012
The argument by conservatives (who once espoused disclosure) that disclosure now should be opposed because it could subject high-profile donors to bullying and harassment is not only hypocritical, it’s disgraceful.
- Sep 6, 2012
After each decennial federal census, state and local governments across the country begin the process of redrawing their congressional districts, state legislative seats, and local governing bodies to accommodate population shifts. All state and local redistricting plans must comport with federal limitations, most notably constitutional equal population requirements and the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, as amended (VRA). Unless constrained by state constitutional or statutory requirements, state and local governments have wide latitude to develop and apply their own redistricting criteria. In practice, however, few state laws set more rigorous standards than those already required under federal law.
- Oct 2, 2012
It seems like an obvious proposition, that a citizen registering to vote casting a ballot, is engaged in free speech, a fundamental right entitled to full protection under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The proposition seems especially obvious in light of the broad First Amendment protection extended to the dollars spent by financial contributors to influence our votes.
But that is not how the Supreme Court sees it. Spending in elections -- by candidates, political parties, individuals, corporations, labor unions, and others -- is treated as free speech entitled to broad First Amendment protection against state and federal limitation. Registering and voting, on the other hand, do not have such protection and can be restricted within states' broad discretion.
- Oct 17, 2012
The new issue of the Rutgers Law Review takes a close at the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a year when the Supreme Court is expected to revisit the landmark Civil Rights legislation. Legal Center Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert wrote an article for the issue, “The Future of the Voting Rights Act” which examines the background of the Act, its multiple renewals and the court challenges which followed each one. The piece goes on to take a close look at the Act’s Section 5 bailout provisions, their effectiveness and affordability, the Court’s significant underestimate of the jurisdictions which have utilized them, and how they provide the flexibility to continually tweak and improve this still-vital Congressional remedy to discrimination.
To read the full article in the Rutgers Law Review, click here.
- Jun 5, 2013
As someone who has devoted the vast majority of my professional career enforcing the Voting Rights Act, the imminent decision in the Shelby County, Alabama case will be of great interest to me. My perspective is a unique one: I spent over twenty years in the Department of Justice (most of that time enforcing the Voting Rights Act), and I have spent nearly twenty years in private solo practice representing state and local governments who have endeavored to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Moreover, of the approximately 209 state and political subdivisions that have bailed out since the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act liberalized the bailout requirements, I have represented around 95 percent of those jurisdictions.
- Jun 26, 2013
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, struck down core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, invalidating the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions must seek federal approval of their voting changes under the Act. This decision is a major setback for voting rights and will have a real, detrimental impact on voters.
Without federal oversight of voting changes in the covered states, the cause of racial equality and effective participation by minority voters in our democracy is harmed in four ways:
- Sep 26, 2013
In yet another display of the Texas judiciary's overt partisanship in the legal saga over Tom DeLay's alleged money laundering scheme during the 2002 Texas elections, a court of appeals overturned DeLay's conviction last Thursday.
Disappointingly -- yet perhaps unsurprisingly -- the court of appeals' decision split along partisan lines. The two Republican judges, Melissa Goodwin and David Gaultney, found that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's 2010 guilty verdict. But as Chief Justice J. Woodfin Jones (a Democrat) noted in his dissent, there was evidence from which rational jurors could find that DeLay and two of his associates illegally funneled corporate funds to candidates for Texas offices and DeLay's guilt was a decision for the jury to decide.
- Nov 3, 2014
Every two years, in the run-up to national elections, the usual suspects begin to beat the drum about the supposed scourge of voter fraud...
Why Participation at the Federal Election Commission Matters, Despite the Agency's Dysfunction (The Huffington Post)Dec 17, 2014
We are sometimes asked why the Campaign Legal Center even bothers dealing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) anymore -- except to sue it for undermining the letter and the spirit of the laws passed by Congress...
- Aug 3, 2016
Last week, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s omnibus voter suppression law — a law so jam-packed with voting restrictions targeted at poor, minority communities that its moniker was the “monster law.”
The decision was handed down alongside a spate of other federal decisions in the past two weeks blocking voter restrictions and voter ID requirements in Wisconsin, Texas, North Dakota and Kansas. Some of these laws had been rushed through and passed following the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating 2013 blow to the Voting Rights Act, which for 50 years had protected voters from discriminatory laws like poll taxes, literacy tests and the like.
- Nov 18, 2016
Jeff Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to fairness and equality under the law, a commitment that should be a minimum qualification for the position of Attorney General.
Why I told the Senate that Jeff Sessions thought civil rights groups were ‘un-American’ (The Washington Post)Nov 22, 2016
I was a young lawyer in the civil rights division at the Justice Department in 1981 when I first encountered Jeff Sessions. At the time, Sessions was the new U.S. attorney for Alabama. I met him while I was handling a major voting rights case in Mobile, and I relayed a rumor I’d heard: A federal judge there had allegedly referred to a civil rights lawyer as “a traitor to his race” for taking on black clients. Sessions responded, “Well, maybe he is.”
- Jan 4, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to speak out against President-elect Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions.
Former Colleague of Jeff Sessions Says Trump's Pick Unqualified to be Attorney General (Real News Network)Jan 5, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert was interviewed for a segment on The Real News Network regarding his personal experience with President-elect Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions.
Why the NAACP and former Colleagues say Jeff Sessions is Unfit to Serve As Attorney General (Real News Network)Jan 8, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert was interviewed for a segment on the Real News Network following an NAACP protest against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.
- Jan 10, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert appeared on MSNBC to challenge the civil rights record of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions.
Jeff Sessions says he handled these civil rights cases. He barely touched them. (The Washington Post)
Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions is trying to mislead his Senate colleagues, and the country, into believing he is a champion for civil rights. We are former Justice Department civil rights lawyers who worked on the civil rights cases that Sessions cites as evidence for this claim, so we know: The record isn’t Sessions’s to burnish. We won’t let the nominee misstate his civil rights history to get the job of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
- Apr 11, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert joined a panel of experts for a discussion and debate on current election law issues and controversies, including: the constitutional status of racial and political gerrymandering; ballot access issues, such as voter ID laws, registration requirements and early voting; campaign finance practices like dark money, disclosure requirements and the consequences of Citizens United; and the aftereffects of Shelby County v. Holder.
- May 15, 2017
CLC Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Gerry Hebert appeared on KALW 's Your Call regarding President Trump and his voter fraud commission.
- Sep 20, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court has an opportunity this term in CLC’s Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case (Gill v. Whitford) to rein in the pernicious practice of elected officials cherry picking their voters and silencing the voices of voters in the other party. Our democracy desperately needs the Court to rise to the challenge.