The U.S. Department of Justice is fighting a request from the lawyers for Shelby Co., Ala., for more than $2 million in legal fees and costs tied to their challenge of the constitutionality of a provision of the Voting Rights Act. The government on Nov. 26 in Washington federal district court filed its opposition to the attorney fees and litigation expenses that Shelby County’s lawyers—led by Bert Rein of Wiley Rein—contend they should receive for their work. The U.S. Supreme Court in June, in a 5-4 decision, struck down the provision of the Voting Rights Act that established the formula for determining which jurisdictions were required to give the Justice Department or a federal court the authority to review certain electoral changes before they were implemented.
Justice Department lawyers argue in their papers that Shelby County—despite prevailing in the high court—is not entitled to legal fees from the federal government. The department’s court filing is here.
The department’s attorneys, including Avner Shapiro of the DOJ Civil Rights Division, argue three points against the fee request. Among them: There’s no language in the Voting Rights Act “even hinting that the government consents to having attorney’s fees awarded against it,” Shapiro wrote.
Bert Rein, who argued for Shelby County in the Supreme Court in February, said today the he will respond in court to the government’s position. Rein, a founding partner of Wiley Rein, called the dispute a “significant issue.”