Ruth Greenwood

Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Director, Election Law Clinic

2021-2022

Biography

Ruth is the Director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School. She engages in litigation and advocacy on a variety of election law cases, while training the next generation of election lawyers.

Ruth litigated two partisan gerrymandering cases from the trial level to the Supreme Court of the United States, Gill v. Whitford and Rucho v. Common Cause, and, with her team, won the first ever tri-coalition claim under the federal Voting Rights Act in Holloway v. City of Virginia Beach. In addition, Ruth has advised dozens of state advocates on drafting and implementing independent redistricting commissions, state voting rights acts, and adopting ranked choice voting.

Ruth was previously the Co-Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center, Lead Counsel for Voting Rights at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and a Redistricting Fellow with the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute. She received her LL.M from Columbia Law School in 2009, and her LL.B./B.Sc. from the University of Sydney in 2005. Ruth is admitted to practice as an attorney in Massachusetts, Illinois and New York.

Areas of Interest

Ruth Greenwood and Aseem Mulji, Designing State Voting Rights Acts, Campaign Legal Center (July 13, 2020).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Elections & Voting
Type: Other
Abstract
This guide is for community members, activists, legislators, and the media—anyone who wants to understand why state VRAs are necessary, and how they should be written to ensure that people of color and local governments have the necessary tools to secure equal voting rights.
Ruth Greenwood, Annabelle Harless, Blair Bowie & Charquia Wright, Designing Independent Redistricting Commissions, Campaign Legal Center (July 17, 2018).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
Type: Other
Abstract
Though redistricting has always been a problem in American politics, the outsized role of partisanship in the redistricting process has received unprecedented attention across the nation since 2010. This guide is intended to arm legislators, good government advocates, and activists with the knowledge needed to design an independent redistricting commission for state legislative or congressional districts.
Ruth Greenwood, Fair Representation in Local Government, 5 Ind. J.L. & Soc. Equality 197 (2017).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Discrimination
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Elections & Voting
,
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
This Article focuses on my work in Illinois to use the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to improve minority representation at the local level, but the themes and findings are applicable across the country because many states have growing minority populations in the suburbs just outside of large city centers. These minority populations tend to be much less segregated than the minority communities in the cities, and so it is more difficult to use Section 2 of the VRA (“Section 2”) to ensure both descriptive and substantive representation. I recommend the use of fair representation systems like ranked choice and cumulative voting (with multi-member districts) to improve minority representation in these decreasingly segregated areas. I introduce three case studies from Illinois to highlight the numerous burdens facing those that seek to reform their local government redistricting systems. I finish with some thoughts on how litigation and legislative advocacy may be used to promote fair representation systems in local government.
Ruth Greenwood, Return of the States, 40 The Harbinger 97 (2015).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Discrimination
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Elections & Voting
,
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
In the wake of Shelby County v Holder and the hundreds of restrictions on voting rights passed by state legislatures in the last five years, Ben Cady and Tom Glazer’s article, Voters Strike Back, provides a timely and comprehensive review of the causes of action available for voter intimidation. It provides guidance to litigators on how to use these currently underutilized provisions to protect voters, at a time when their rights are under renewed attack. Cady and Glazer’s article provokes two questions—one normative and one practical. First, should the courts treat voter intimidation committed under color of state law in the same way as that committed by private actors? I posit the answer should be yes. And second, how can litigators encourage the courts to stop ignoring the clear language and legislative history of section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act?4 The first step is to follow Cady and Glazer’s suggestion to only plead a section 11(b) violation, but litigators should also more clearly articulate the relevant language and history of that provision.

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Education History

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