U.S. Supreme Court justices will convene May 14 to discuss a Texas voting rights case that could impact Yakima’s legal fight with the American Civil Liberties Union. Meanwhile, an attorney hired by the city says negotiations to reduce the ACLU’s $2.8 million fee claim against Yakima are at a standstill. The Supreme Court conference, held behind closed doors, is a routine part of the decision-making process on whether to hear cases submitted to the court. An announcement on whether the case will be heard could come as early as May 18.
In April, the Yakima City Council voted 5-2 to appeal a federal judge’s ruling in a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ruling ordered the city to implement council elections entirely by district beginning this year, including two majority Latino districts to fix what the judge said was a clear pattern of white voters suppressing Latino interests in previous elections.
Yakima is putting its hopes for an appeal on the back of Evenwel v. Abbott, a case that challenges whether electoral districts should be based on equal shares of the general population or just the portion of the population that is eligible to vote. Yakima’s new elections map is relatively balanced in terms of general population, but there are wide differences in the number of citizens of voting age in each district.