CIR to appeal voting rights ruling

CIR will appeal a ruling today that CIR clients Stephen LaRoque, John Nix, Klay Northrup, Lee Rainor, and Tony Cuomo — individual candidates and referendum sponsors in Kinston, North Carolina — lack standing to challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. According to federal District Judge Bates’s written decision, the plaintiffs do not have a sufficient personal stake in the way Section 5 regulates voting procedures in the City of Kinston. According to Judge Bates’s ruling, only the City can challenge the constitutionality of Section 5’s invalidation of the nonpartisan voting plan passed by a majority of Kinston voters.

The judge’s ruling leaves the decision to challenge Section 5 solely in the hands of local party-affiliated politicians with a vested interest in the partisan system Section 5 preserved when it invalidated the nonpartisan plan. It does so even though unaffiliated candidates such as Nix and Northrup are directly harmed by that invalidation, which was based on the explicit and unconstitutional favoritism Section 5 shows toward one racial group of voters at the expense of other racial groups. CIR will appeal this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on an expedited basis.