From the 2006 News Archive
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Professor Sherrilyn Ifill offers U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee testimony supporting Voting Rights Act reauthorization

On Thursday, July 13, 2006, Professor Sherrilyn Ifill appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committeeís Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights to lend her support to the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. She joined other civil rights scholars in testifying to the effect of the Supreme Courtís recent ruling in League of United Latin American Citizens, et al. v. Perry, et al. on the renewal of the Voting Rights Actís temporary provisions.

In her testimony, Professor Ifill said the Supreme Courtís recent decision that Texasís 23rd District was unconstitutionally drawn in 2003 "recognized that significant levels of racially polarized voting continue to hamper minority electoral opportunities." The LULAC ruling stresses that "intense partisan struggles are not sufficient to insulate those jurisdictions that adopt changes that either impair or retrogress minority voting strength."

The Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965 to stop the systematic exclusion of black voters, particularly in the South, through barriers such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Much of the legislation, including a section that bans racial discrimination at the ballot box, is permanent law. Portions of the Act, however, are temporary and must be renewed periodically by Congress. These include requirements that call for certain jurisdictions to demonstrate to the federal government that a voting change does not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters, mandates more than 450 counties and townships to provide voters with limited English proficiency assistance at all stages of the election process, and gives the U.S. attorney general authority to send federal examiners to monitor elections. The renewal passed the House by an overwhelming majority on Thursday afternoon and now moves on to the Senate.

Professor Ifill is nationally recognized as an advocate in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, judicial diversity and judicial decision-making, and writes about judicial diversity and decision-making, as well as racial violence and reconciliation efforts. She is currently writing a book about lynching in Maryland entitled, A Conversation on Race: Truth, Reconciliation and Lynching on Marylandís Eastern Shore. Prior to joining the Faculty in 1993, Professor Ifill served as an Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. in New York, where she litigated voting rights cases. She is a frequent guest on The Marc Steiner Show, a public affairs program on WYPR where she talks about race and the law, and her op-ed articles often appear in the Baltimore Sun and the AFRO-American newspapers.


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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved