Northwest Austin MUD v. Gonzales: Brief on behalf of the Appellant

Feb 19, 2009

Brief on behalf of the Appellant. The questions presented are whether §4(a) of the Voting Rights Act, which permits “political subdivisions” of a State covered by §5’s requirement that certain jurisdictions preclear changes affecting voting with the federal government to bail out of §5 coverage if they can establish a ten-year history of compliance with the VRA, must be available to any political subunit of a covered State when the Court’s precedent requires “political subdivision” to be given its ordinary meaning throughout most of the VRA and no statutory text abrogates that interpretation with respect to §4(a); and whether, under the Court’s consistent jurisprudence requiring that remedial legislation be congruent and proportional to substantive constitutional guarantees, the 2006 enactment of the §5 preclearance requirement can be applied as a valid exercise of Congress’s remedial powers under the Reconstruction Amendments when that enactment was founded on a congressional record demonstrating no evidence of a persisting pattern of attempts to evade court enforcement of voting-rights guarantees in jurisdictions covered only on the basis of data 35 or more years old, or even when considered under a purportedly less stringent rational-basis standard. It is argued that  the Court should reverse the judgment of the district court and render judgment that the district is entitled to use the bailout procedure or, in the alternative, that §5 cannot be constitutionally applied to the district.

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