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March 4, 2009

The Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights symposium, “Voting Rights in a New Administration,” March 9, 2009

The Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights will host its 2009 symposium: “Voting Rights in a New Administration” on March 9, 2009 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm at the University of Texas School of Law.

Energized by a compelling campaign season, millions of new voters surged to the polls to make their voices heard in the 2008 presidential election. Americans defend their ability to vote as a fundamental right and a sacred civic duty. The protection of voting rights continues to be a hotly contested issue as evidenced by the ongoing court battle for Minnesota’s Senate seat. This symposium will reflect on how courts have adjudicated voting rights cases in the past, and speculate as to how the Justice Department under the Obama Administration will approach these issues.

The symposium will commence with a keynote luncheon at 11:30 a.m. in the Sheffield Room. Two panel sessions will follow at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm in the Eidman Courtroom.

Keynote Address
Robert Kelner will deliver the symposium’s keynote address. Kelner is the chair of Covington and Burlington’s election and political law practice group in Washington, D.C. He worked closely with attorney general Eric Holder and will discuss possible positions the Obama Justice Department will stake out on election law, voting rights, and civil rights issues in general.

Panel Session 1:
The first panel, entitled “Crawford, Texas Redistricting, and Beyond: Are Facial Challenges Dead in Election Law?” will analyze the recent shift towards “as-applied” challenges in election law and discuss the impact on future litigants. Panelists will examine Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd. which upheld Indiana’s voter-ID law, and LULAC v. Perry, a Texas case in which the Supreme Court held that the state legislature’s redistricting plan did not violate the Constitution, but did violate the Voting Rights Act. Finally, the panel will consider the Roberts Court’s resistance to “facial” challenges. This panel features Robert Kelner, Joshua Douglas, and Max Renea Hicks. UT Law professor Stefanie Lindquist will moderate.

Panel Session 2:
In “Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Mukasey and the Future of the Voting Rights Act,” the panel will weigh the constitutionality of the “preclearance requirement” in section five of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court will consider this very issue in NAMUDNO v. Mukasey, a highly anticipated case that originated in Austin, Texas. The panel will provide the details of the case, predict the outcome, and anticipate its effect on the Voting Rights Act. Professor Steve Bickerstaff, a former election law litigator, and Christian Ward from Yetter, Warden, and Coleman will serve as panelists.

Registration is available at:

Lawyers in attendance can receive up to three hours of CLE credit for a $50 charge. Otherwise, the events are free and open to the public.

The schedule of events is available at:

Related links:

Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights

Nathan D. Pearman, Symposium Chair, Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights