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Riley v. Kennedy

Docket No.: 07-77
Certiorari Granted: 11/20/2007
Argued: March 24, 2008
Decided: May 27, 2008


Voting Rights Act of 1965

PartyNames: Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, Appellant v. Yvonne Kennedy, et al.
Petitioner: Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, Appellant
Respondent: Yvonne Kennedy, et al.

Court Below: United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
Citation: 2007 WL 1284912
Supreme Court Docket

Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, Appellant
Yvonne Kennedy, et al.
553 U.S. 406 (2008)

This Section 5 litigation involves two decisions of the Supreme Court of Alabama, Stokes v. Noonan, 534 So. 2d 237 (Ala. 1988), and Riley v. Kennedy, 928 So. 2d 1013 (Ala. 2005). Those decisions concern the manner of filling vacancies on the Mobile County Commission and are based on valid, race-neutral, generally-applicable principles of law. The three-judge district court held that both decisions required preclearance to be enforceable. The State submitted the decisions for preclearance, and the Attorney General of the United States interposed an objection. The district court then entered a remedy order vacating a gubernatorial appointment that had relied on these State court decisions to fill a vacancy that had arisen. This appeal presents the following questions:

Question Presented:

1. Whether the decision of a covered jurisdiction's highest court that a precleared State law is unconstitutional and, thereby, invalid as a matter of State law is a change that affects voting that must be precleared before it can be enforced. 2. Whether the preclearance of a trial court's ruling that affects voting while that ruling is on appeal and subject to possible reversal establishes a baseline such that the reversal of that decision is a change that must be precleared before it may be enforced.


Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was the State of Alabama required to preclear two Alabama Supreme Court decisions invalidating state and local laws creating a special election for local officials in an action against the Governor of Alabama challenging the legality of those elections?

Riley v. Kennedy

March 24, 2008

Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 7 votes for Riley, 2 vote(s) against
Vote: 7-2
Majority: Judgment Reversed, Case Remanded. Ginsburg, Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito
Dissenting: Stevens,Souter
Opinion By:

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