Robinson Bradshaw Files SCOTUS Amicus Brief on Important Voting Rights Issue



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March 12, 2019

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court concerning partisan gerrymandering on behalf of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. Its principal mission is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all. Robinson Bradshaw attorney Robert E. Harrington has been a member of the Lawyers' Committee board since 1997 and is a former co-chair.

Defending the voting rights of African-Americans and other racial minorities is a central part of the Lawyers' Committee's work. To support that mission, Harrington, Erik R. Zimmerman and Travis S. Hinman worked with attorneys at the Lawyers' Committee and Fish & Richardson P.C., on a pro bono basis, to prepare an amicus brief in two cases that address the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Partisan gerrymandering is a practice by which state legislatures draw election districts to favor the political party currently in power and dilute the voting strength of an opposing party. The brief explains that, because race and politics are often correlated, partisan gerrymandering can also diminish the voting strength of racial minorities. The brief urges the Supreme Court to rule that partisan gerrymandering is subject to judicial review and proposes constitutional standards for the Court to apply.

"Partisan gerrymandering severely restricts the effectiveness of citizens' votes," said Harrington. "And racial gerrymandering in the guise of partisan gerrymandering cuts to the core of voting rights for African-Americans and other racial minorities. The Court should take this opportunity to preserve the full power of every citizen's vote." The Lawyers' Committee's press release can be viewed here.

This brief follows Robinson Bradshaw's filing of another brief on March 1. Zimmerman, Mark A. Hiller and Gabriel Wright filed an amicus brief on behalf of a group of tax law professors in a case concerning state taxation of trusts. The Supreme Court is considering whether the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment permits North Carolina to tax out-of-state income earned by a trust with in-state beneficiaries. Along with Daniel Hemel of the University of Chicago Law School, Robinson Bradshaw prepared a brief arguing that North Carolina can tax the trust's income. The brief also explains why a contrary ruling would allow much of the income accumulated by trusts to escape taxation altogether—which would have significant consequences for state budgets across the country.

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