An Alabama county won’t have to pay a $2 million legal bill for winning a case that led the Supreme Court to throw out part of the Voting Rights Act, according to the man who spearheaded the lawsuit. “Shelby County owes nothing,” Edward Blum of the Project on Fair Representation said in an email. Blum, whose legal defense fund partnered with Shelby County to challenge portions of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional, said he has raised money from private donors to pay part of the legal costs. If he doesn’t raise more, the Wiley Rein law firm in Washington, which handled the case for the Project on Fair Representation, will absorb the costs, Blum said. Wiley Rein also is working to convince a federal court that the Justice Department, which lost the Supreme Court case, should have to pay the fees. A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department doesn’t have to pay, but the firm has appealed that ruling.
Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, had challenged the Voting Rights Act’s formula that was used to determine which parts of the country needed to get pre-approval from the Justice Department before making any changes to their election procedures. The Supreme Court found the formula unconstitutional.
Its ruling ended the “pre-clearance” process for Alabama and several other states and local jurisdictions, a historic shift in how the federal government enforces anti-discrimination laws meant to protect minority voters.
Shelby County, which argued the South should no longer be punished for past discrimination, lost the case in two lower courts before prevailing at the Supreme Court. Over those three-and-a-half years, the county’s legal team ran up a bill of more than $2.4 million. Wiley Rein billed for 4,632.5 hours of work through October 2013 at an average hourly rate of $525.98, according to court documents.
Full Article: Shelby Co. won’t have to pay fees in voting rights case.