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Supreme Court's voting rights decision to be topic of Emory Law forum

The event is hosted by the legal history workshop led by Emory Law senior lecturer Kathleen Cleaver.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which found portions of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional, will be the topic of a public forum at Emory University School of Law Tuesday, Nov. 12. Participants will include members of the federal bench, legal professors and civil rights activists.

The forum will be held from 6:15 to 9 p.m. in Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium. A reception will follow. Admission is free but registration is requested to attend.

About the forum

The forum will allow panelists and the audience to discuss how the decision will affect national, state and local elections.

Keynote speaker will be federal district court judge The Hon. Myron H. Thompson, who was nominated to Alabama’s Middle District by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. His career has included dealing “with some of the most complex and controversial cases our time, and he handled them fairly and thoughtfully,” according to Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The program will open with remarks by Atlanta-born civil rights attorney Howard Moore Jr. His former clients include Angela Davis, who received an acquittal on charges of kidnapping and murder. He moved to California to participate in her defense and remained there in practice.

Shirley Sherrod, a native Georgian who has worked for decades on issues concerning civil rights and land collectives, also will speak. She is the former USDA rural development state director for Georgia and author of the book, "The Courage to Hope." 

Emory Law professor Michael Kang, a nationally recognized expert on election law, politics and governance, will moderate the discussion.

Shelby County v. Holder

In June, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision eliminated voting discrimination protections, which had been in place for more than 40 years. The court’s decision found Section 4 of the act unconstitutional and said its formula could no longer be used to subject jurisdictions to preclearance. The act required state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to apply for advance approval from the federal government prior to making changes to voting laws or procedures. Georgia was among the nine states governed by that requirement.

The event is hosted by the legal history workshop led by Emory Law senior lecturer Kathleen Cleaver, who in addition to a distinguished career in academia, worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as the Black Panther Party’s communications secretary.

The event is sponsored by Emory Law School Democrats, Emory’s Black Law Student Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Lawyers’ Guild chapter at Emory, and the Civil Rights Society. Representatives from those organizations will pose initial questions to panelists, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

For more information, contact Cleaver at or 404-727-0350.

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