January 12, 2021
On January 6, 2021, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal by the East Ramapo Central School District (the District) and affirmed the finding of Southern District of New York Judge Cathy Seibel that the District’s use of an at-large election system resulted in the unlawful dilution of Black and Latinx citizens’ votes in violation of the Voting Rights Act. This victory follows our earlier win on behalf of the Spring Valley National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in a hotly contested case seeking to restore and protect the vote of minority citizens in Rockland County, New York, in May 2020.
In a powerful opinion, the Second Circuit wrote that “[f]ew rights are more sacred than the right to vote” and noted that “historically [that right] has not been granted equally in this country.” Based on facts proved by Latham litigators at trial, the Court held that “the totality of the circumstances supports the finding of a Section 2 violation given the near-perfect correlation between race and school-type; the scant evidence supporting the District’s claim that policy preferences, not race, caused election results; the Board’s blatant neglect of minority needs; the lack of minority-preferred success in elections; the exclusive, white-dominated slating organization; and evidence suggesting the District acted in bad faith throughout the litigation.”
The Second Circuit’s opinion is an important step in the restoration of minority voting rights in the District, and serves as a vital tool for enabling minority parents to have a say in the quality of their children’s education. It also ensures that minority voters in the District will now have an opportunity to combat the discriminatory practices that the District has long engaged in.
The Latham team includes Charles Dameron, Andrew Clubok, Claudia Salomon, Corey Calabrese, Marc Zubick, and Russell Mangas. For their work on the appeal, the team was recognized as runner-up Litigators of the Week by The American Lawyer.