The Supreme Court decision that nullified a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is more than two years old, but the battle rages on over whether federal officials should pick up the legal tab. Shelby County won the case that freed Alabama and several other states from having to prove in advance that every proposed change to their election procedures wouldn’t discriminate against minority voters. Conservatives hailed the historic decision as a victory for states’ rights, but civil rights groups assailed it, saying it weakens protections for black and Latino voters. After the court’s 2013 ruling, the county’s Washington lawyers filed a $2 million bill and said the losing party in the case — the U.S. Department of Justice – should pay it.
Two lower federal courts disagreed. They said that in passing the Voting Rights Act, Congress intended that the government would cover attorneys’ fees only in cases that protected voters’ rights, not that partially dismantled the law.
“Shelby County’s attorneys won an impressive victory before the U.S. Supreme Court,” U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote in his 2014 decision denying the fees. “But as is true in most litigation, the victory came at a price. Shelby County and its attorneys, not the American taxpayer, must foot the bill.”
Full Article: Shelby County seeks legal fees in voting rights victory.