The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently held, as a matter of first impression, that private parties may not sue to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Instead, lawsuits to enforce Section 2 can only be brought by the Attorney General of the United States. Judge David R. Stras wrote the opinion, with Judge Raymond W. Gruender joining. Chief Judge Lavenski R. Smith dissented.
The case—Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment, No. 22-1395, 2023 WL 8011300, ___ F.4th ___ (8th Cir. Nov. 20, 2023)—arises from the 2021 redistricting plan for the Arkansas House of Representatives. The plaintiffs sued on the same day that the redistricting plan took legal effect, alleging that the redistricting plan diluted Black voting strength, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That section prohibits the denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color. 52 U.S.C. § 10301.