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Press Release

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest Supporting Private Citizens’ Right to Sue Under Voting Rights Act of 1965

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department today announced that it has filed a statement of interest in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania supporting the right of private plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This filing is one of many recent briefs by the Justice Department supporting the longstanding principle that private plaintiffs are authorized to bring lawsuits to vindicate important rights protected by the Voting Rights Act.

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and it is the right on which all other rights depend,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Since the enactment of the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1965 to protect this precious right, private parties have enforced the law in courts across this country, enabling countless Americans to vote free from unlawful discrimination. The Justice Department will continue vigorously enforcing the Voting Rights Act and defending the right of private citizens and organizations to do the same.”

“The Voting Rights Act gives private citizens a voice to stand up to unlawful voting discrimination by their government,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. “My office will continue to enforce the civil rights statutes like the Voting Rights Act, and proudly partners with the Civil Rights Division in protecting a private citizens’ right to enforce that Act.”

The department filed its statement of interest in Aquino and Lopez v. Hazleton Area School District, a case in which plaintiffs allege the at-large method of electing the nine-member school board of directors unlawfully dilutes the ability of Hispanic voters to elect candidates of their choice. The school district seeks to dismiss the case, arguing that private parties like the plaintiffs are not able to file lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The department’s statement of interest argues that private parties may enforce the Voting Rights Act directly, as well as through another civil rights law on which plaintiffs often rely.

The Justice Department has filed 18 statements of interest and amicus briefs in federal district courts and courts of appeals since January 2021 supporting the right of private parties to file suits under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act to protect the right to vote. In all, since January 2021, the Justice Department has filed 32 statements of interest in courts across the country to protect the right to vote.

More information about voting and elections is available on the Justice Department’s website at Learn more about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws at Individuals may report possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through the Civil Rights Division’s website at or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931.

Updated May 1, 2024

Civil Rights
Voting and Elections
Press Release Number: 24-548