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For Release September 21, 2010
On September 21, 2010, the United States Department of Justice and the City of Kings Mountain, North Carolina filed an agreement in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granting the City a bailout from coverage under the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Kings Mountain becomes the first local government in the nation (outside of the municipal utility district in Texas) to obtain a bailout under the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder (NAMUDNO). Until the 2009 NAMUDNO case, it was widely believed that political subunits like Kings Mountain were ineligible to obtain a bailout.
Attorney J. Gerald Hebert, a solo practitioner in Alexandria, Virginia, represented Kings Mountain in this bailout, along with the City’s attorney, Clayward (Mickey) Corry of the Corry law firm. Mr. Hebert has represented all 64 of the jurisdictions (all located in Virginia) that bailed out prior to the 2009 NAMUDNO case.
A bailout under the Voting Rights Act essentially means that the City of Kings Mountain will no longer have to obtain pre-approval or preclearance of changes it makes to its election or voting process. Hebert also noted that obtaining a bailout now could save jurisdictions time and expense in the upcoming redistricting cycle. Hebert said “too many local governments are simply unaware of the bailout option, or erroneously think bailout is either too cumbersome or costly; in fact, it is an easy process that’s both affordable and cost-efficient.”
Hebert predicted that many other jurisdictions would be seeking bailouts in the coming months, noting that his law firm currently represents six other jurisdictions pursuing bailouts, including political subunits in California and Mississippi, as well as Virginia.