Fall 2013 Distinguished Speaker Series

The Supreme Court and the Voting Rights Act

Mark Michelson

Retired Partner, Choate, Hall & Stewart, Boston.
HILR Member

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 10:00 am

On June 25, 2013 in a landmark case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney General, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, held that a critical provision in the federal Voting Rights Act was invalid.

The Shelby County v. Holder case concerns the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices; and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.

Mark will discuss the content of the statute; what the Court said and why; what the dissent said; what the consequences have already been and are likely to be; and what can be done about it, if anything.

Mark is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He clerked for the State Supreme Court before joining Choate, Hall & Stewart where he was partner for 32 years. He is a former president of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Foundation and Director of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.