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Published on April 17, 2024
Illinois AG Kwame Raoul and Coalition Fight to Uphold Voting Rights Act in Georgia Redistricting BattleSource: Unsplash/Element5 Digital

Attorney General Kwame Raoul is doubling down on efforts to defend voting rights, joining forces with attorneys general from 19 other states. They filed an amicus brief that aims to uphold the integrity of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act amidst a legal battle over redistricting in Georgia, as per a statement from Raoul.

According to a brief obtained by the Illinois Attorney General's office, the united action by the state lawyers pushes back against what they view as "radical challenges" to the landmark civil rights legislation. They argue that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit should move to reject attempts to block lawsuits aimed at countering discriminatory election practices. Raoul stated, “Across the country, we continue to witness attempts to gut critical voting rights protections that ensure every citizen has access to the ballot box.”

This legal uproar follows a district court's decision ordering Georgia to redraw its district maps after voting rights organizations and citizens challenged the new congressional and state legislative boundaries. The particularly contentious maps are criticized for diluting the political influence of Georgia’s Black communities.

Challenging the district court's ruling, the Georgia secretary of state appealed, suggesting that being mandated to draw maps with race in consideration is a constitutional overstep. Furthermore, their appeal controversially argues that individual voters and private organizations ought not to have the right to enforce the Voting Rights Act, effectively barring them from filing lawsuits against racially discriminatory election practices. The attorneys general are united in disagreeing, holding firm that these private lawsuits play an indispensable role in the fight for equal voting rights, according to the brief.

The coalition has weighed in heavily, backing the district court's ruling that declared Georgia's maps unlawful under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This section is a major bulwark against racial discrimination in the electoral arena, and the attorneys general have emphasized the historical significance of allowing private citizens to enforce it. The argument rests on the assertion that the 15th Amendment's protections against race-based voting restrictions are fortified by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and this defense is viewed as essential to the health of American democracy.

Upon the roster of supporters for today's filing list were attorneys general from states including California, New York, and North Carolina, illustrating a wide geographic range of concern for the matter at hand. It is clear from this formidable show of solidarity that many state legal officers are prepared fervently to defend the right of all to participate equally in the democratic process.