YAKIMA — The American Civil Liberties Union says its lawsuit against Yakima over how City Council elections are conducted is not affected by Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.
The ACLU is suing the city under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership of language minority groups protected under the act. The Supreme Court only ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional. The constitutionality of Section 2 was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1980.
For that reason, Tuesday’s ruling by the Supreme Court will have no impact on the Yakima suit, said Doug Honig, a Seattle-based spokesman for the state chapter of the ACLU.
The suit, filed last year in the federal Eastern District Court of Washington, requests the city implement an elections system that would comply with the law if the court finds the city to be in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The lawsuit does not demand the city strictly adopt district-only voting, but it’s the system voting rights advocates following city of Yakima elections have long called for.
The case is expected to be heard in September.
Latinos now make up 33 percent of the city’s voting-age population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, but no Latino has ever been elected to the City Council.
The only Latino to serve, local attorney Sonia Rodriguez-True, was appointed to the seat and lost a close election to current Councilman Dave Ettl in 2009.
In 1982, Congress amended the Section 2 to say that an electoral process may be unconstitutional if the circumstances surrounding the results, regardless of intent, deny a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.