Sherrilyn Ifill is a lawyer, and expert on voting rights and judicial selection. Currently, she is a law professor at the University of Maryland Law School and also president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Ifill began her legal career in a fellowship with the ACLU in New York. She then served as assistant counsel at the Legal Defense Fund, where she litigated Voting Rights Act cases. Her first book, "On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century," was published in 2008. Ifill was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York. She received her B.A. from Vassar College and her J.D. from the New York University School of Law. She interned for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. and at the United Nations Centre for Human Rights.
Episode Notes: Dahlia Lithwick is joined by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to discuss voting and the crisis of legitimacy facing a Supreme Court embroiled in politics, the election, and an epochal shift to the right.  In our Slate Plus segment, Dahlia is joined by Brian Fallon of Demand Justice to discuss the whys and the wherefores of court reform.  Sign up for Slate Plus now to listen and support our show. Podcast production by Sara Burningham. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Baratunde speaks with Sherrilyn Ifill, the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund about the very long history of voter suppression, why it still exists (hint: white supremacy and racism), and the current tactics being deployed for the 2020 election. Show Notes + Links We are grateful to Sherrilyn Ifill for joining us.  Follow her at @Sifill_LDF and @NAACP_LDF on Twitter. You can learn more about the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund at We will post this episode, a transcript, show notes and more at Please show your support for the show in the form of a review and rating. It makes a huge difference with the algorithmic overlords! HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW. ACTIONS FOR THIS EPISODE.  INTERNAL ACTIONS Become educated on the systems of oppression so you know the roots and how to fight back. Two good books to start with for a comprehensive take.  Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B Wells You can buy these books and support local bookstores using our show’s link  Understand the Voting Rights Act and how the Shelby decision changed everything. Make your voting plan. Visit to make your voting plan. This is the organization that LeBron James helped start, and they’ve partnered with a number of groups including Sherrilyn and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Also visit the newly released tool from Vote Save America to get ready with a sample ballot for your area to plan your voting so you can be EFFICIENT at the voting booth.  EXTERNAL ACTIONS Find out the EXACT requirements of mail-in or absentee ballots in your state and share them so every vote is counted. The requirements and directions for voting by mail differ by state. Some require signatures by a witness on the outside of the envelope along with the witness’s address and your signature. Some require using two envelopes when mailing them back. Get the details from a trusted source or from the ballot itself and remind people to triple check these details! Be a democracy team captain. Take the lead in making sure at least three people you know vote. Follow up with them often until they have voted. Ask each one to do the same! Compile key information about voting and vote by mail for your state. Then simplify the directions for those you are taking responsibility for, and share resources with them. Here are two comprehensive and easy to understand sites summarizing the steps for each state:  Finally, offer to provide a witness signature for the mail-in ballot envelope if that’s required, or offer to deliver their ballot to the drop-off location if they are unable to do so themselves. Support the polls. Bring water, masks, gloves, umbrellas, and other supplies to share with people waiting in long lines to support the polls. If you’re an artist, consider bringing your talents to the public as people wait in line. They will love you for it.  ------------------------------------------------------ If you take any of these actions, share that with us - Mention Making Our Vote Count in the subject line. Also share your citizening on social media using #howtocitizen.  We love feedback from our listeners -  Visit Baratunde's website to sign up for his newsletter to learn about upcoming guests, live tapings, and more. Follow him on Instagram or join his Patreon. You can even text him, like right now at 202-894-8844. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Trevor introduces the Pandemmy Awards, Sherrilyn Ifill discusses the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Ewan McGregor talks about his Apple TV+ docuseries "Long Way Up." Learn more about your ad-choices at
In Part 2 of a special bonus edition of Talking Feds commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, and Barbara McQuade speak with Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) about voter suppression, the unravelling of our democracy that has been going on for years, and the role the legal community has played in these failures.
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Creator Details

Dec 17th, 1962
New York, New York, United States of America
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
19 hours, 31 minutes
Podchaser Creator ID logo 721203