This is one in a series of profiles marking the 60th anniversary of the ACLU of Kentucky’s founding. Each week through December 2015 we will highlight the story of one member, client, case, board or staff member that has been an integral part of our organization’s rich history.
Voting Rights Plaintiffs
“[We] believe strongly that the right to vote is the responsibility of each citizen, not to be taken lightly. To learn that our vote will be diluted and not counted properly was disappointing.” -- Marty and Geri Herbert
In a 2013 lawsuit, the ACLU of Kentucky joined forces with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and cooperating attorney Ben Carter to represent several Kentucky voters — Marty and Geri Herbert of Boone County, Linda and Larry Allewalt of Shelby County, and former Kentucky League of Women Voters President Teena Halbig of Jefferson County — in a challenge to the constitutionality of Kentucky’s then-operative House and Senate legislative districts. We argued that the districts — which were enacted in 2002 using the 2000 Census data — violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s “one person, one vote” principle because they were grossly imbalanced in light of the 2010 Census data and, as a result, unlawfully diluted many Kentuckians’ votes, including our clients’.
The three-judge panel assigned to hear the case consolidated the ACLU-KY suit with a similar suit filed by several Northern Kentucky politicians and voters. After extensive briefing, the court issued its ruling on Aug. 16, 2013, agreeing that the 2002 maps violated the U.S. Constitution. And it also entered a permanent injunction barring the state from using the 2002 maps in future Kentucky elections.
After that favorable ruling, the General Assembly conducted a special session in which it enacted new legislative districts based on the 2010 Census data.
The ACLU-KY’s work on “one person, one vote” reaches back more than 45 years, but the assault on this fundamental freedom continues. The organization will continue legal and advocacy efforts to protect voting rights in the commonwealth.