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Russell Sage Fellows Ponder Voting Rights Act Renewal

The Russell Sage Foundation invites visiting scholars to its headquarters to investigate topics in the social and behavioral sciences based on its three research programs -- future of work, cultural contact and immigration. The foundation then publishes books building on the work produced by its fellows, and by those invited to speak at Russell Sage.

Prominent political science professors and legal scholars from across the country gathered at the Russell Sage Foundation, a social science research center in New York City, on Friday June 24, and Saturday, June 25, for a conference on, "The Coming Fire: Conference on the 2007 Renewal of the Voting Rights Act." The studies covered all of the various areas relating to the much-disputed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which comes up for renewal in 2007.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was established in an effort to eliminate discriminatory election practices and disenfranchisement, and Section 5 of the act allows the federal government to oversee state districts that have had patterns of voting discrimination.

The reports, most of which are works in progress, address the legal, political and racial implications of Section 5 and what its renewal means for future elections. A book of the studies presented at this conference will be published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 2006.

Columbia faculty and former Russell Sage fellows David Epstein, professor of political science, Sharyn O'Halloran, professor of political science and public affairs, Rodolfo de la Garza, professor of political science, along with Richard H. Pildes, professor of law at New York University, organized the working conference. Sam Issacharoff, Harold R. Medina Professor in Procedural Jurisprudence, Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Litigation, Robert Lieberman, associate professor of political science and public affairs, and Robert Erikson, professor of political science, were among those invited to make presentations.

"The purpose of our conference was to discuss the act and debate if it needs to be amended, modified or eliminated so that minority voters have an effective voice in the political process," said O'Halloran.

In 2004-2005, six of the Russell Sage visiting fellows had affiliations with the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP), the research division of the social sciences at Columbia. Recent ISERP faculty fellows at the foundation, along with Epstein and O'Halloran, include Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History; Adam McKeown, associate professor of history; Mignon Moore, assistant professor of sociology, and Francesca Polletta, associate professor of sociology.

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Published: Jul 06, 2005
Last modified: Jul 07, 2005

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