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8:30-9:00 am: Registration and Continental Breakfast (Berkeley Law Donor Lobby) 

9:00-9:30 am: Welcome & Opening Remarks (Booth Auditorium)

Student Welcome: Ian Jamal Brown & Sonja Francine Marie Diaz, Symposium Editors

 Joaquin Avila, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, Seattle University School of Law (Video)

Mapping the Ballot Box Opening Remarks: Professor john a. powell

9:45-11:00 pm: Panel Discussions Session I

Option I (Warren Room): The Historical Exclusion of Minority Elected Officials from the LA County Board of Supervisors & The Fight for Three Majority-Minority Supervisorial Districts

This panel will explore key components of Section 2 of the VRA through a case study on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors-the second largest municipality in the U.S. Panelists will describe the historical exclusion of Black, Latino, Asian American, and women elected officials on the Board of Supervisors for over a century. It will also touch on how the adoption and implementation of discriminatory redistricting plans that sought to exclude non-white male supervisorial candidates and protect incumbents during redistricting implicate communities of color. This panel will describe the landmark Garza v. Los Angeles County, 918 F.2d (9th Cir. 1990)litigation strategy that created the first Latino-majority district in the county because of a finding of discriminatory purpose. It will then discuss the 2011 redistricting plans that sought to create a second Latino-majority district, and the current legal battle under Section 2 to mandate a second Latino supervisorial district while maintaining the single Black supervisorial district.

Moderator: Sonja Francine Marie Diaz, Symposium Editor & JD Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Law


  •  Richard P. Fajardo, Los Angeles County Legislative Analayst 
  •  Leobardo Estrada, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles 
  •  Steven Ochoa, National Redistricting Coordinator, Mexian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) 

Option II (Goldberg Room): Section 5 in a Colorblind Era: Constitutional Challenges Posed by the Contemporary Racial Order

Section 5 of the VRA seeks to prevent racially discriminatory voting practices by requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to acquire “preclearance” from the government prior to changing their laws. The legislation was enacted in an environment of overt and widespread racial discrimination, and this environment provided constitutional justification for the stringent burden it imposed upon impacted jurisdictions. In the decades since the passage of the VRA, we have witnessed a considerable diminution in racial discrimination, increased minority political participation, and the election of the nation’s first Black president. In light of these developments, many have argued that it is impossible to justify the burdens Section 5 imposes. This panel will evaluate these arguments, considering whether Section 5 is likely to survive the Shelby County v. Holder constitutional challenge and arguments on which its survival may rest. Additionally, this panel will consider the VRA’s coverage formula and whether it is impermissibly broad, insufficiently narrow or simply inappropriate to carry out its intended purpose and meet constitutional muster.

Moderator: Bertrall Ross, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley


     Kareem U. Crayton, Associate Professor of Law, University of North Carolina

      Rick Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine

     Franita TolsonBetty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights, Florida State University 

      Nicholas Espiritu, National Staff Attorney, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

11:15-12:30 pm: Panel Discussions Session II

Option I (Warren Room): Mapping Communities of Color: The Implications of 2010 Census Redistricting Plans on the 2012 General Election

This panel will feature a post-election discussion on the impact of redistricting on the outcomes of the 2012 General Election. The 2010 U.S. Census revealed significant population growth among Latino and Asian-American communities throughout the U.S., restructuring national and statewide electoral districts in both urban and rural minority localities. Redistricting plans based on the 2010 Census data altered the electoral landscape for Black and Latino voters throughout the U.S. Based on the 2012 General Election outcomes, how did redistricting plans shape electoral outcomes? Were Black, Latinos, and other communities of color able to elect their candidates of choice in and beyond majority-minority districts? What was the experience of newly created coalition districts? What impact did legal challenges and pressures regarding Section 2 compliance to redistricting plans based on the 2010 Census have on the 2012 election?

Moderator: Ana Henderson, Director of Opportunity & Inclusion at Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute, University of California, Berkeley


      Eugene Lee, Project Director-Voting Rights Project, Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC)

      Myrna Pérez, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice

Option II (Goldberg Room): Voter ID’s, Election-Roll Purging, and the Coordinated New Assault on Minority Voting Rights

This panel will discuss the emergence of a new slate of restrictive voting laws and election practices that threaten to abridge the rights of millions of Blacks, Latinos, and members of other marginalized communities. The political context in which these practices arose will be examined, as will the controversial justifications given for their enactment. Most importantly, the panelists will consider the legal challenges to these practices, and the ways the resulting cases in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina have reshaped legal understandings of the VRA and election law.

Moderator: Spencer A. Overton, Professor of Law, George Washington University


      Nancy Abudu, Senior Staff Attorney-Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

      Matt A. Barreto, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Washington

      Katherine Culliton-González, Senior Attorney & Co-Director of Voter Protection, Advancement Project

12:45 -2:00 pm (Room 110): Thelton E. Henderson Center’s Ruth Chance Lecture-

Spencer A. Overton, Professor of Law, George Washington University

The legacy of the Voting Rights Act illustrates both the need for broad-based coalitions and the importance of strategy/sustainability in crafting civil rights statutory language. This lecture will discuss the historical underpinnings of the VRA, include commentary on the 2006 reenactment, and a discussion of the need for the VRA, including Section 5, beyond the 25 years Congress authorized in 2006. This lecture will also touch on the ways that the VRA, envisioned to enfranchise all voters, but primarily Blacks, has now been applied to other communities of color, namely Latinos and Asian Americans. What does the initial intent of the VRA mean for communities of color amidst an assault on voting rights by states that are covered jurisdictions under Section 5 and those practice minority vote dilution in violation of Section 2?

Lunch will be provided by student-run journals.

2:15-3:15 pm: Strategy Session Roundtables

Participants have the option of participating in four different strategy sessions that are outcome-oriented and participatory in their design. Participants are encouraged to engage in the session that best reflects their interest and type of legal/policy/community work.

Option I: Civic and Electoral Engagement (Room 244)

This strategy session will address the civic and electoral participation of communities of color in local, state, and federal elections. Participants will be charged with discussing the following issues: low-voter registration and electoral participation of voters of color, the political mobilization of immigrant communities, and strategies to increase civic and electoral participation.

Facilitator: Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California Berkeley

Option II: Policy and Advocacy (Room 141)

This strategy session will discuss how electoral policies and practices are reformed through public policy. Facilitators will touch on: state statutes (same day voter registration, voter identification laws, early voting), redistricting reforms (state commissions and statutes), state voting rights statutory frameworks (California Voting Rights Act), and the role of elected officials in the facilitation of elections, particularly the role of Secretaries of State. Participants will be charged with sharing anecdotal observations on how state election laws and practices implicated communities of color, how advocates worked to develop equitable election procedures, and how advocacy and policy can shape equitable outcomes in the democratic participation of communities of color.

Facilitators: Joanna Cuevas Ingram, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area & Juan Carlos Ibarra, Staff Attorney, Advancement Project

Option III: Litigation Strategies (Room 107)

This strategy session will describe a variety of litigation strategies in the protection and expansion of voting rights for people of color. Facilitators will describe voting rights litigation strategies under Sections 2 & 5 of the VRA, the California Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment. Participants will be charged with discussing the role of affirmative litigation versus defending voting rights statutory frameworks, the role of various models of lawyering, particularly impact litigation and community lawyering in the context of voting rights, and the burden-shifting schemes under different voting rights regimes.

Facilitators: Nicholas Espiritu, National Staff Attorney, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) & Mike Baller, Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardian  

Option IV: Legal Scholarship & Theory (Room 111)

This strategy session will explore the theoretical underpinnings of voting rights jurisprudence as it relates to protecting the rights of communities of color to participate equally in the political process and elect their candidates of choice. The legal approach that was effective when black-white relations and de jure discrimination were the dominant paradigms requires retooling in the consideration of racial equity in the twenty-first century. Facilitators will discuss how changes in ethnic/racial stratification implicate the discriminatory purpose/intent standard, how the Gingles v. Thornburg, 478 U.S. 30 (1986) preconditions complicate vote dilution cases, the value of theories surrounding cultural compactness, and the viability of coalition-districts. Participants will be charged with engaging in a discussion of discriminatory purpose/intent, inter/cross-ethnic relations (cultural compactness), and how to replace the black-white paradigm of race relations with a more culturally appropriate legal framework.

Facilitators Janai S. Nelson, Associate Professor of Law, St. John's University & Guy-Uriel Charles, Charles S. Rhyne Professor of Law, Duke University

3:30-4:45 pm (Booth Auditorium): Panel Discussion

Racial Equity & VRA Litigation Strategies Beyond the Racial Binary

Theme: Despite the success of the VRA in combating racial/ethnic discrimination with regards to the electoral franchise, the VRA’s jurisprudential landscape has and may continue to complicate future litigation strategies under Section 2 and Section 5 as it relates to the creation of coalition-districts and the conceptualization of communities of interest and ‘cultural cohesion.’ This panel will discuss the limitations of the VRA for communities of color, and how litigation strategies that serve to create majority-minority districts for one racial/ethnic group, may complicate the fundamental right to elect a candidate of choice for other racial/ethnic groups. How have and can lawyers fight to protect voting rights under the VRA with the goal of racial equity embedded in litigation strategies?

Moderator: Colin Allred, JD Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Law 


     Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

      Terry Ao Minnis, Director of Census & Voting, Asian American Justice Center

      Anita Earls, Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

      Robert Rubin, Director, California Voting Rights Institute

5:00-6:30 pm (Booth Auditorium): Closing Remarks & Reception (Steinhardt Courtyard)

Thomas A. Saenz, President & General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund

This lecture will close the 2013 symposium by touching on the historical battle to ensure Blacks and Latinos are able to participate equally in the political process and elect their candidates of choice. Given the legacy of voting rights violations by the state of Texas, whereby the state has had to appear in court to defend every Congressional redistricting plan they proposed in the last four decades, this lecture will touch on the ways that Texas’ discriminatory history of infringing on the rights of voters of color has implications in communities of color across the U.S. This lecture will discuss the propensity for coalition-districts, the statutory constraints on multi-ethnic coalition building, the implications of a winner takes all attitudes, and the role of discriminatory purpose as both an underpinning and barrier to legal strategies.

MCLE Credit will be offered (rates available at registration table). Per MCLE policies, below are relevant legal articles in preparation for the Symposium: 

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The Journal hosts symposia, colloquia, and a speaker series to bring together students, professors, practitioners, and judges with activists and other community members to discuss current issues affecting the Latina/o community.

By organizing events for the production of knowledge, we create opportunities to learn about pressing issues and create spaces in which to transform our legal education—not merely to supplement it—but to actually enable us to become effective advocates for social justice in the U.S. and human liberation throughout the world. 
Past Journal symposia include:
  1. The Wise Latina: The Myth of Neutrality (Oct 15, 2009)
  2. Majority/Minority State: Turning Power in Numbers into Power at the Polls in 2008 (Feb 22, 2008)
  3. After May Day: What Next for Immigration Reform (March 17, 2007)
  4. Overturning Prop. 209: California in a State of Crisis (April 6, 2006)
  5. The New Face of California: The Great Central Valley (November 3-5, 2005)
  6. Making Movement: Communities of Color and New Models of Organizing Labor (April 8, 2005)
  7. Our Pueblo: Defendiendo Nuestros Derechos / Defending Our Rights (October 23, 2004)
  8. Rekindling the Spirit of Brown v. Board of Education: A Call to Action (November 13-14, 2003)
  9. First Annual Conference on Coalitions, Coalitions at the Crossroads: Access to Justice (April 12-13, 2003)
  10. Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation (October 26-28, 2001)
  11. The Changing Face of Labor: Critical Labor, Immigration, and Employment Issues in the New Global Economy (February 23, 2001)
  12. Running the Race: Latino Political Power in the New Millennium (March 4, 2000)
  13. Our Kids in Crisis: Latino Youth and the Juvenile Justice System (April 17, 1999)
  14. Educating California: All Our Children (March 14, 1998)



Colloquia provide opportunities for Boalt professors, local Latina/o attorneys, and other specialists to share their expertise with the Boalt Hall community. Together we learn about generally unknown sociolegal subjects and thereby gain insight into the actual effects of law and policy.

Past colloquia are listed and described below:
On Wednesday March 9, 2005, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30, the Journal hosted Ejected from Our Homes: Depression Era Deportation of Citizens, which recovered the hidden history of the "repatriation" of people who were summarily judged to be "Mexican," and therefore presumably not U.S. citizens, in the years following the Great Depression. Professor Francisco Balderrama, co-author of A Decade of Betrayal, the only book-length study of this subject; Steve Reyes, the MALDEF staff attorney, who worked on the Castañeda class action lawsuit that sought reparations for the deportees; and Layla Razavi, legislative aide to State Senator Joseph Dunn elucidated the historical, legal, and policy aspects of this little known but critical part of American history. We are grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and thereby enabling us to become better advocates for our communities and those others that are targeted by the state for disruption and deportation in contravention of the due process of law.
On Tuesday November 16, 2004 the Journal co-hosted (with the Asian Law Journal), Thirty Years of Lau v. Nichols: A Panel Discussion on Bilingual Education and the Law. Panelists included Boalt professors Rachel Moran and Steve Sugarman, as well as Boalt alumna, Deborah Escobedo. California MCLE credits were available through the Office of Alumni Relations & Development.
In the Spring 2004 semester, the Journal organized two well-attended colloquia. The first, Mendez v. Westminster: 1946 - A California Look at Brown v. Board of Education, was co-sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and featured a California school desegregation case that preceded Brown v. Board of Education by eight years. The panel featured two Boalt professors, Angela Harris and Goodwin Liu; an eminent historian, Charles Wollenberg; and a Boalt alumnus (and past president of the California La Raza Lawyers Association), Christopher Arriola.
The second colloquium that semester, Race and American Law: Locating Latina/os in the Black/White Paradigm, juxtaposed Mendez with other cases, like Hernandez v. Texas, the 50 year old case that directly precedes Brown and which found Mexicans and Mexican Americans to be racially White but extended Fourteenth Amendment equal protection doctrine to them on the basis of fact-specific findings of discrimination against them as a group. Panelists included Boalt professor Ian F. Haney López, Mary Louise Frampton, director of the Center for Social Justice, and Professor Alex Saragoza of the department of Ethnic Studies.

We are also interested in organizing the latest instance of our ongoing lunchtime speaker series.
On Monday, October 22, 2007, we co-sponsored with the Thelton Henderson Center for Social Justice a Ruth Chance lecture entitled, You live WHERE?!?: Exciting Challenges Living and Working in Rural California, featuring Boalt Hall alumna Alegría De La Cruz, directing attorney of California Rural Legal Assistance's Migrant Farmworker Project.
On Thursday, September 29, 2007, we co-sponsored, with La Raza Law Students Association and the Boalt Hall Women's Association, a lecture by Mónica Ramirez of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.
In the Fall 2005 semester, we held one installment of our speaker series. Some twenty-five students listened to Visiting Professor Ángel Oquendo explain the LatCrit movement in critical legal scholarship as well as his role as a member of the Board of Directors of LatCrit, Inc. and the theme of the 2005 South-North Exchange on Law, Theory & Culture, of which he is a project coordinator.
In the Spring 2004 semester, our speaker series included two lectures by Boalt professors. Norman Spaulding elucidated the historical development of jurisprudence in the twentieth century, and Angela Harris discussed Critical Race Theory and the emergence of Latina & Latino Critical Legal ("LatCrit") Theory. Both lectures were open to the public and very well attended by Boalt students.
Although the struggle of Latinas/os and other racialized minority groups in the United States remains fierce, the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal remains dedicated to producing knowledge that illuminates contemporary social conditions and educates el pueblo so that together we may abolish every possibility of oppression.
¡Viva La Raza!


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