Political Scientists Submit Amicus Brief to Supreme Court in Shelby County vs. Holder

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelby County v. Holder on February 27, 2013. Five political scientists whose research focuses on public opinion, voting rights, and electoral behavior submitted an amicus (or "friend of the court") brief in support of the respondents. The full text of the brief submitted can be read here.

The issue in Shelby County v. Holder is "whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution."

For more information about Shelby County v. Holder and for a list of all briefs in the case submitted to the Court, visit the case page on SCOTUSblog.


Kareem Crayton is a scholar whose work integrates law, politics and race. Professor Crayton's innovative scholarship examines the varied effects of state-sanctioned racial exclusion and discrimination on campaign and governance in political institutions. His publications employ a variety of research methods to examine ongoing controversies ranging from voter polarization, ballot measures, electoral campaigning, legislative caucus behavior, to partisan competition. Before entering the legal academy, Professor Crayton served as a foreign law clerk to Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo on the Constitutional Court for the Republic of South Africa and as a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. He contributed amicus counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court for the Congressional Black Caucus in the Voting Rights Act lawsuit Bartlett v. Strickland as well as co-counsel to the Congressional Tri-Caucus (Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses) in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One (NAMUDNO) v. Holder, another seminal voting rights case. He joined the Carolina Law faculty as an Associate Professor in 2010.

Professor Jane Junn University of Southern California

Professor Jane Junn

University of Southern California

Jane Junn is Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California. She is the author of five books on political participation and public opinion in the U.S. Her first book, Education and Democratic Citizenship in America (with Norman Nie and Ken Stehlik-Barry, University of Chicago Press, 1996), won the Woodrow Wilson Foundation award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science. She is also the author of Civic Education: What Makes Students Learn (with Richard G. Niemi, Yale University Press, 1998), New Race Politics: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Politics (edited with Kerry L. Haynie, Cambridge University Press, 2008), and Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and their Political Identities (with Janelle Wong, Karthick Ramakrishnan and Taeku Lee, Russell Sage Foundation, 2011). Her newest book with Natalie Masuoka, The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion and Immigration, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2013. 

Jane has been Vice President of the American Political Science Association, a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a recipient of an Outstanding Teacher Award from Columbia University Teachers College. She was a member of the Social Science Research Council National Research Commission on Elections and Voting and a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on the U.S. Naturalization Test Redesign. She was the director of the USC – Los Angeles Times Poll during the 2010 California election.

Professor Terry Smith Depaul University College of Law

Professor Terry Smith

Depaul University College of Law

Terry Smith is a professor of law at Depaul University College of Law. He was previously at Fordham University, where he taught civil procedure, employment law, labor law and public sector labor law, and voting rights. Professor Smith received his undergraduate degree from Brown University, magna cum laude, and his law degree from New York University. While a law student, he was a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow, recipient of the Leonard M. Henkin Prize, and articles editor of the Annual Survey of American Law. After law school, Professor Smith clerked for the Hon. Nathaniel R. Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, and was an associate at Kirkland & Ellis.

Janelle Wong is a Professor of American Studies and the Director of the Asian American Studies Program. Prior to joining the faculty at the University Maryland in 2012, she was at the University of Southern California in the Departments of Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity. She also served as Executive Director of the Institute of Public Service at Seattle University (2011-12). Wong is author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. The most recent is Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and their Political Identities (2011, Russell Sage Foundation), based on the first nationally representative survey of Asian Americans’ political attitudes and behavior. This groundbreaking study of Asian Americans was conducted in eight different languages with six different Asian national origin groups. Wong has received research funding from the Russell Sage Foundation, Irvine Foundation, and Carnegie Foundation. She was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, in 2006-2007.

Matt A. Barreto is an Associate Professor in political science at the University of Washington, Seattle and the director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (WISER). He is also the director of the annual Washington Poll. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine in 2005. His research examines the political participation of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and his work has been published in the American Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, and other peer reviewed journals. He is the author of the book, Ethnic Cues: The role of shared ethnicity in Latino political behavior published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010, and has just finished a book manuscript co-authored with Prof. Christopher Parker, Change They Can't Believe In: the Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America, to be published in 2013 with Princeton University Press.

Luis Ricardo Fraga is Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Director of the Diversity Research Institute, Russell F. Stark University Professor, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. He has the responsibility for developing strategies and policies with the Provost, Vice Provosts, Deans, and Department Chairs to recruit, promote, and retain faculty at the UW. He has been on the faculty at Stanford University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Oklahoma. He received his A.B., cum laude, from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University. His primary interests are in American politics where he specializes in the politics of race and ethnicity, Latino politics, immigration policy, education politics, and urban politics. He has two recent books: the co-authored Latino Lives in America: Making It Home (Temple University Press 2010) and United States Government: Principles in Practice (Holt McDougal 2010). He has also published the co-authored book Multiethnic Moments: The Politics of Urban Education Reform (Temple University Press 2006). He was a member of the APSA standing committee on Civic Engagement and Education that co-authored Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation, and What We Can Do About It (Brookings Institution Press 2005). He is also co-editor of Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Greenwood 1992). He has published extensively in scholarly journals and edited volumes. His co-authored book Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press.

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