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Paul, Weiss Wins Important Settlement on Behalf of Long Island Latinx Plaintiffs in Federal Voting Rights Case

Paul, Weiss and co-counsel secured a significant settlement in a pro bono voting rights case that ends a system of at-large representation that has deprived Latinx residents of the town of Islip, Long Island of representation within Islip. Our clients are four Latinx residents of Islip; Make the Road New York; and New Communities for Change.

In June 2018, our clients sued the Town of Islip and the Islip Town Board, alleging that Islip's at-large voting structure for Town Board denied Islip Latinx residents representation in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Under the at-large system, Islip’s sizable Latinx population has been unable to elect their preferred candidates to the Town Board because they have been consistently outvoted by the white majority; in fact, no candidate of Latinx race/ethnicity has ever been elected to the town’s government. In the November 2019 election for Town Board, held during the pendency of the case, the preferred candidates of Latinx voters, as well as the one Latinx candidate on the ballot, were decisively defeated by white incumbents. We sought to replace Islip's at-large voting system with single member districts, which must include at least one majority-Latinx district.

Under the consent judgment entered into by the Town of Islip, the Town stipulated that “implementation of the at-large system for Islip Town Council elections violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” Additionally, Judge Gary R. Brown found that “implementation of the at-large system for Islip Town Council elections violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because, under that system, members of the Hispanic or Latino minority group in Islip have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” As a result of the consent judgment, Islip’s at-large voting structure will now be replaced with four districts, with each Town Board member representing a specific district, one of which will be centered in the hamlet of Brentwood and which will be majority-Latinx. As a result of this case, one of the largest Latinx communities on Long Island has vindicated their voting and election rights and those of generations to come.

The parties came to terms on the consent judgment after just four and a half days of a virtual trial held before Judge Brown, which was hosted pro bono by Impact Trial Consulting LLC using Zoom for Government. In these current challenging times, Impact proved that trials have a place in this new virtual world and that justice can and will continue to be served.

Civil rights attorneys Frederick Brewington and Randolph McLaughlin were co-counsel in the case.

The Paul, Weiss team was led by litigation associate Sara Hershman and included associates Alex Atkins, Anna Blum, Theodore Galanakis, Liam Hancock, Andrea Keller, Luke Phillips and Rachael Schuman. Litigation partner Andrew Gordon and counsel Dan Levi and Jenny Wu supervised the matter.

October 14, 2020

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