A federal appeals court will hear arguments involving a 2021 lower court ruling in an Arkansas redistricting case that radically concluded private parties may not sue to protect their voting rights under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, reasoning that only the U.S. attorney general may bring a case under the statute. With its ruling, the court ignored decades of precedent permitting private individuals to vindicate their rights under Section 2.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit challenging the Arkansas state House map because it denies Black Arkansans an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice, as required under the Voting Rights Act.


The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arkansas, Law Office of Bryan L. Sells LLC, and Dechert LLP challenged the map on behalf of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

Sophia Lin Lakin, co-director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, will argue the appeal on behalf of the challengers. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2 p.m. CT


Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse

111 South 10th Street

St. Louis, Missouri 63102


Dial: 1-888-363-4749

Access Code: 4423562


Sophia Lin Lakin, co-director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “For generations, private individuals have brought cases under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to protect their right to vote. Dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 cases brought by private plaintiffs for more than four decades, and not once has a court denied them the ability to bring their claims in federal court — with the sole exception of the district court whose ruling we are appealing. The Eighth Circuit should reverse this radical decision.”

Kymara Seals, policy director at the Arkansas Public Policy Panel: 

“The power to draw the lines of political representation should not be used to disadvantage certain groups of people. Redistricting is an important tool for ensuring fair representation and it is essential to challenge inequitable maps that seek to undermine that goal.”

Barry Jefferson, political action chair of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP: “Redistricting should be done in a way that ensures all citizens, regardless of their race, are represented by the government. It is only through a fair redistricting process, grounded in racial equity, that the voices of all citizens can be heard. We must continue this challenge to secure a racially equitable outcome so that our government is truly representative of its people.”

Case details: https://www.acluarkansas.org/en/cases/arkansas-state-conference-naacp-et...