Cases & Deals

Kinston candidates prevail in D.C. Circuit appeal of right to challenge Section 5 of Voting Rights Act

Clients Private parties

On July 8, 2011, a unanimous D.C. Circuit panel agreed with Jones Day that the district court had erroneously dismissed a suit by candidates from Kinston, N.C., challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. After the Department of Justice denied preclearance under Section 5 to a referendum providing that Kinston's municipal elections would be conducted on nonpartisan basis, Jones Day brought suit on behalf of Kinston candidates and voters claiming that Section 5 exceeds Congress's powers to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of standing and a cause of action, but the D.C. Circuit reversed. Adopting Jones Day's arguments and repeatedly quoting from its briefs, the appellate court held that Section 5's preemption of the Kinston referendum injured Republican candidates for election and that those candidates could seek injunctive relief that would set aside Section 5 and thereby reinstate the referendum.