Friday, June 10, 2011

DOJ allows Bedford City to “bail out” of the Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the city of Bedford, Va., that, if approved by the court, will allow for the city’s bailout from its status as a “covered jurisdiction” under the special provisions of Voting Rights Act, and thereby exempt the city from the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the act. The agreement is in the form of a consent decree filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

A declaratory judgment before a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Such a bailout judgment can only be issued if the court determines that the jurisdiction meets certain eligibility requirements for bailout contained in the statute.

The city of Bedford, Va., filed its bailout action in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on March 4, 2011. City officials had contacted the attorney general prior to filing its action, indicating that the city was interested in seeking bailout. Based on an investigation, the department is satisfied that the city meets the Voting Rights Act’s requirements for bailout.

“In this case, the department carefully evaluated the information the city provided to us and conducted our own investigation, which has satisfied the department that the city is eligible for a bailout,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I appreciate the cooperation of city officials in providing the department with substantial information, and moving toward a resolution of this matter in the way envisioned by the Voting Rights Act.”

The court can reopen the action during a subsequent 10-year period if any aggrieved person alleges discriminatory conduct by the city that would violate the Voting Rights Act.

Long-time Roanoke SCLC activist quits over “bailout”

Roanoke City Council gets read the Voting Rights Act

Posted By Valerie Garner

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