Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 (NAMUDNO) v. Gonzales
Nathaniel Persily’s article, The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act, recently became a focus of attention in a pending case challenging section 5 of the VRA on constitutional grounds, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 (NAMUDNO) v. Gonzales, No. 1:06-cv-01284-PLF (D.D.C. Aug. 4, 2006).
The plaintiff in the case, a Texas utility district covered by section 5 of the VRA, argues that the requirement that it obtain federal preclearance for changes to its election practices is not a congruent and proportional response to current voting rights problems – and therefore that it exceeds Congress’s enforcement powers under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.The Justice Department and defendant-intervenors argue that section 5 is a valid exercise of Congress’s enforcement powers, and that evidence of ongoing voting rights violations demonstrates the continued need for section 5.
In advance of the September 17 oral argument, the three-judge panel hearing the NAMUDNO case directed the parties to submit comments on Professor Persily’s forthcoming article.
Below you will find the parties’ briefs in the case, as well as the comments they filed regarding the Persily article in response to the court’s order.