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The firm achieved a series of victories in important voting rights cases before the US Supreme Court this Term. Most recently, on June 5, 2017, the Court, in North Carolina v. Covington, affirmed the lower court’s holding in an important voting rights case in North Carolina. Jenner & Block Partner Jessica Ring Amunson was counsel for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which argued that the state had created 28 legislative districts through unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The lower court had agreed and ordered the state to run special elections in 2017 to fix the issue. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's finding but vacated its order for special elections in response. In its opinion, the Court left open the possibility of special elections to remedy the constitutional violations and remanded for the district court to provide a more detailed balancing of the equities.
This victory was the second positive result for Ms. Amunson in the Supreme Court in a two-week period, with regard to voting rights issues. On May 22, the Court agreed with arguments outlined in an amicus brief co-authored by Ms. Amunson and filed on behalf of several voting rights organizations in Cooper v. Harris. The Court struck down two districts in North Carolina’s congressional map, holding that the state had engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
Ms. Amunson also represented a number of voting rights organizations as amici in another important voting rights case, decided earlier this Term on March 1. In Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the Supreme Court issued the ruling sought by the firm’s clients in holding that the lower court used the wrong legal standard in determining that race did not predominate in 11 of 12 legislative districts in Virginia.