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Photo of Guy-Uriel Charles

LAPA Seminar: Race, Racism, and the Voting Rights Act

Oct 8, 2018 04:30PM to 06:00PM


Open to the Public
Guy-Uriel Charles, Duke Law School; Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law at Duke Law School and the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

The Voting Rights Act is one of the most iconic and consequential civil rights statutes ever enacted by Congress.  For 50 years, the Act represented a distinctive and successful approach to addressing racial equality in voting, an approach constructed from the iron fillings of the civil rights movement. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Court struck down two of the critical provisions of the Act and signaled the end of a particular way of understanding voting rights law and policy.  Commentators have blamed Shelby County for the demise of the VRA.  In this talk, Professor Charles will suggest that the Act’s demise is caused by the Court’s conception of racism, which is reflected in Shelby County but also in many other civil rights cases.  He will conclude by exploring how the Court’s understanding of racism will affect the future of voting rights law and policy.


LAPA’s seminar format encourages attendees to familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion.

Copies of the seminar paper are typically available about 10 days before the event, during regular business hours, at the LAPA Offices on the 3rd floor of Wallace Hall.

Guy-Uriel Charles is the Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law at Duke Law School, and founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics. He is an expert in and frequent public commentator on constitutional law, election law, campaign finance, redistricting, politics, and race. He joined Duke Law's faculty in 2009; he previously was the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.


More information: Contact Judi Rivkin, jrivkin@princeton.edu