In 1995, former Illinois Republican Governor Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which Republicans argued could invite fraud and which some Republicans feared could swell the ranks of Democratic voters.
The law mandated people be allowed to register to vote in government offices such as driver's license renewal centers.
"He and his client were the ones who filed the original case -- they blazed the trail," said Paul Mollica, who represented the League.
Transcripts show that at court hearings, Obama identified himself, then let Mollica begin speaking. Maria Valdez of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund sometimes spoke. The U.S. Justice Department joined in.
Obama's side won, even without him talking.
Woods Fund of Chicago
As at 2004, Maria Valdez was serving on the Board of the Woods Fund of Chicago. The Fund was established in 1941 and is a private philanthropic foundation that makes grants in metropolitan Chicago, Illinois. Woods Fund "supports nonprofits in their important roles of engaging people in civic life, addressing the causes of poverty and other challenges facing the region, promoting more effective public policies, reducing racism and other barriers to equal opportunity, and building a sense of community and common ground".