Ryan P. Haygood

Ray P. Haygood, Board Member

Ryan P. Haygood is the Director of the Political Participation Group at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.  In that capacity, Ryan oversees LDF’s voting rights docket and litigates cases that challenge racially discriminatory practices in the political process on behalf of African-Americans.

Ryan was a member of LDF’s litigation team in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. One v. Holder that successfully defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act against a constitutional challenge before the United States Supreme Court in 2009.


That same year, Ryan represented African-American voters in Jefferson Parish, Louisianain Williams v. McKeithen, a challenge to the method of electing judges to the state court of appeals.  In response to the Williams litigation, theLouisiana legislature created a new district that provided Jefferson Parish’s Black community, for the first time in history, with the opportunity to elect a candidate of its choice.

Ryan has also served as counsel in several voting rights challenges to discriminatory state laws that disproportionately deny voting rights to people with felony convictions, widely recognized as the next phase of voting rights movement. 


In one of those cases, Farrakhan v. Gregoire, Ryan successfully argued before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit that Washington’s law violates the Voting Rights Act.  In the first ruling of its kind, the Ninth Circuit in 2010 struck down Washington’s law, finding compelling evidence that the state’s criminal justice system operates to shift inequality into the political process.  As a result, the Court concluded, racial minorities are denied an equal opportunity to participate in Washington’s political process. Ryan subsequently argued before an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, with the Court ultimately reversing its earlier ruling.  


During the 2008 presidential election, Ryan litigated two successful pre-Election Day challenges, including a case inAlabamathat resulted in a ruling that allowed a prison-based voter registration drive to continue, and a case inIndianathat prevented an effort to challenge voters’ eligibility to cast a ballot on the basis of home foreclosure.

Ryan speaks and writes frequently on issues concerning race, law, and democracy, including, most recently,Disregarding the Results:  Examining the Ninth Circuit’s Heightened Section 2 “Intentional Discrimination” Standard in Farrakhan v. Gregoire (PDF), 111 COLUM. L. REV.SIDEBAR 51 (2011), and  The Dim Side of the Bright Line: Minority Voting Opportunity After Bartlett v. Strickland.