On January 2, 2013, two of Nielsen Merksamer’s leading voting rights experts, Marguerite Leoni and Chris Skinnell, filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court, in the pending constitutional challenge to Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act (Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder)….
In August of 2012, after more than two years of investigation, the United States Attorney General found that Merced County met the criteria, and consented to Merced County’s bailout. Marguerite and Chris represented the County in the bailout action. The bailout also had coattails, freeing more than 80 cities, school districts and special districts with territory in the County from the need to comply with Section 5’s preclearance obligation. Merced County’s was far and away the largest and most complex bailout action to be approved by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia since the bailout criteria were last amended by Congress in 1982.
The purpose of Merced County’s just-filed amicus brief was to provide the Supreme Court with information regarding Merced County’s successful Section 5 bailout, and to respond to attacks on the County’s bailout in recent press coverage and court filings, which suggest that the County was not entitled to bail out, and the Attorney General permitted the County to bail out improperly to support his argument that bailout is a viable option.