Robert Rubin, a civil rights attorney for almost 40 years, recently left his position as the
longstanding legal director at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco in order
to establish his own practice focusing primarily on voting issues. Prior to arriving in
San Francisco, Rubin was the sole ACLU staff counsel in Jackson, Mississippi from 1979-81,
where he enjoyed the “privilege” of practicing before a federal judge who had just been named
Man of the Year by the Ku Klux Klan.
In the voting rights area, Rubin was Counsel of Record in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case
that involved the first injunction in the nation ordering a state to comply with the “motor voter”
law. In two other cases decided favorably by the Supreme Court, he was counsel to Latino
voters in Monterey County opposed to at-large elections. In these cases, the Supreme Court
rejected California’s argument that the federal voting rights act was unconstitutional and in a
separate ruling, found that the at-large system was not immune from review.
Rubin has filed and successfully resolved more than a dozen cases filed under the California Voting Rights Act resulting in the conversion of electoral systems of city councils and school boards from at-large to single-member districts. Among these successes was a case against the City of Modesto, the first filed under the state law, that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In the face of this litigation, scores of other cities and school boards throughout California have voluntarily converted to district systems.
In Rubin’s first 15 years at the Lawyers’ Committee, when his focus was primarily immigrant and refugee rights, he successfully litigated more than 20 class action suits. One such matter involved the 1994 voters’ initiative Prop. 187 that would have removed undocumented immigrants from public schools statewide. It never went into effect after Rubin, with others, secured a TRO the morning after the vote. After serving as a consultant to the President-elect Clinton transition team in 1992, he later was co-counsel in the litigation that forced the Clinton Administration to release hundreds of Haitian asylum seekers from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He has testified before the California Legislature and U.S. Congress on numerous occasions regarding issues of immigration and voting rights. Finally, he has served as an adjunct law professor at Stanford, UC Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and UC Hastings where he currently teaches a voting rights seminar.
Copyright 2016. Robert Rubin. All rights reserved.