Innovative Voting Rights Case Awaiting Court Appeal

In August of 1997, the Los Angeles NAACP, as lead plaintiff in a coalition of civil rights and voting rights organizations and individual plaintiffs, argued its appeal of a novel voting rights case. Three judges of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in NAACP v. Jones, were urged to reverse the district court's earlier dismissal of the claim that the state and county can be heald liable for the creation and operation of "a wealth primary" in judicial elections. A successful appeal would bring the case back to the district court for trial on the merits.

Elections for judges require candidates to pay as much as $50,000 just to describe their qualifications in the county voter pamphlet. Aspiring lawyers, who want to challenge sitting judges appointed by the governor, must raise as much as $100,000 to be viable candidates in Los Angeles County elections. Modest means candidates and the groups that advocated the interests of modest means people find their voting rights greatly restricted by these barriers caused by lack of access to wealth.

The case is argued, on our behalf, by the Boston-based National Voting Rights Institute, through attorneys John Bonifaz and Abigail Turner. Atty. Joseph H. Duff is our local cooperating counsel. A decision of the appellate court is expected at any time. Watch the news for further updates.