Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JANICE G. CLARK ET AL. v. CHARLES "BUDDY" ROEMER

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES No. 90-952 111 S. Ct. 2096, 500 U.S. 646, 114 L. Ed. 2d 691, 59 U.S.L.W. 4583, 1991.SCT.43161 <http://www.versuslaw.com> decided: June 3, 1991. JANICE G. CLARK ET AL., APPELLANTSv.CHARLES "BUDDY" ROEMER, GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA, ET AL. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA. Robert B. McDuff argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Frank R. Parker, Brenda Wright, Ernest L. Johnson, and Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux. James A. Feldman argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Dunne, Deputy Solicitor General Roberts, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Clegg, and Jessica Dunsay Silver. Robert G. Pugh, Jr., argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Robert G. Pugh, John N. Kennedy, Thomas A. Casey, Michael H. Rubin, Christina B. Peck, and Cynthia Young Rougeou.*fn* Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Author: Kennedy


APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.

Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Author: Kennedy

 JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case raises two issues under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 439, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1973c.

I

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U. S. C. § 1973 et seq., contains two major provisions governing discrimination in election practices. Section 2 addresses existing election procedures. It prohibits procedures that "resul[t] in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color . . . ." § 1973(a). Section 5 governs changes in voting procedures. In order to prevent changes that have a discriminatory purpose or effect, § 5 requires covered jurisdictions, such as Louisiana, to obtain preclearance by one of two methods before implementing new voting practices. § 1973c. Through judicial preclearance, a covered jurisdiction may obtain from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia a declaratory judgment that the voting change "does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color." Ibid. Through administrative preclearance, the jurisdiction may submit the change to the Attorney General of the United States. If the Attorney General "has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission," the State may enforce the change. Ibid.

Appellants are black registered voters and a voting rights organization in Louisiana. They filed this suit in 1986 under §§ 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, challenging the validity of Louisiana's multimember, at-large electoral scheme for certain appellate, district, and family court judges. Under § 2, appellants alleged that Louisiana's electoral scheme diluted minority voting strength. In an amended complaint filed in July 1987, appellants also alleged that Louisiana violated § 5 by failing to submit for preclearance a number of statutory and constitutional voting changes, many of them adopted in the late 1960's and 1970's. The § 2 portion of the case was assigned to a single District Court Judge; the § 5 allegations were heard by a three-judge District Court, 42 U. S. C. § 1973c; 28 U. S. C. § 2284.

In response to the appellants' § 5 allegations, Louisiana submitted all of the unprecleared voting changes for administrative preclearance. In September 1988 and May 1989, the Attorney General granted preclearance for some of the changes, but objected to others. On June 18 and 20, 1990, Louisiana asked the Attorney General to reconsider his denial of preclearance for these seats, and proceeded with plans to hold elections for them in the fall of 1990. On July 23, 1990, appellants filed a motion asking the three-judge District Court to enjoin the elections for the unprecleared seats.

On July 6, 1990, the District Court presiding over the § 2 case enjoined the State from holding elections in 11 judicial districts which it determined violated § 2. Some of these judicial districts were also at issue in the § 5 portion of the case. On September 28, 1990, the three-judge District Court presiding over the § 5 case denied appellants' motion to enjoin the State from holding elections for the seats not blocked by the § 2 injunction. The three-judge panel, however, did enjoin the winning candidates from taking office pending its further orders.

Also on September 28, 1990, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that judges are not representatives for purposes of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 4434 v. Clements, 914 F.2d 620 (1990), cert. granted, 498 U.S. 1061 (1991). Based on this precedent, the District Court Judge presiding over the § 2 aspect of the case dissolved the § 2 injunction on October 2 and ordered that elections for the 11 districts be held on November 6 and December 8, 1990. On the same day, the three-judge District Court presiding over the § 5 case refused to enjoin the elections for the unprecleared seats, but it again enjoined the winning candidates from taking office pending its further orders. As of October 2, 1990, then, Louisiana had scheduled elections for all of the judgeships to which the Attorney General had interposed objections.

In an October 22 order and an October 31 opinion, the three-judge District Court made its final pronouncement on the status of the unprecleared judgeships. The court divided the unprecleared electoral changes into two categories. Category one involved at-large judgeships in districts where, for the most part, the State had obtained administrative preclearance for later created judgeships. The three-judge District Court held that, despite his current objections, the Attorney General had precleared the earlier judgeships when he precleared the later, or related, voting changes. For example, the First Judicial District Court in Caddo Parish has a number of judgeships, called Divisions, subject to § 5. Louisiana submitted and obtained approval for Divisions E (created in 1966, precleared in 1986), G (created and precleared in 1976), H (created and precleared in 1978), and I (created and precleared in 1982). Division F was not submitted for approval when it was created in 1973; rather, it was submitted and objected to in 1988. The three-judge District Court held, however, that when the Attorney General precleared Divisions G, H, and I, he also precleared Division F. The court reasoned that because the legislation creating Divisions G, H, and I added to the number of prior judgeships in Caddo Parish, including Division F, approval of the legislation constituted approval of Division F. 751 F. Supp. 586, 592, and n. 35 (MD. La. 1990).

Category two under the court's ruling involved judgeships subject to valid objections by the Attorney General. Yet despite its holding that these unprecleared judgeships violated § 5, the court refused to enjoin the elections. It found "the potential harm to all of the citizens of Louisiana [from such an injunction] outweigh[ed] the potential harm, if any, of allowing the elections to continue." Id., at 595. It allowed the election to proceed under the following conditions. The winning candidates could take office if, within 90 days, Louisiana filed a judicial preclearance action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or persuaded the Attorney General to withdraw his objections. The winners of the election could remain in office pending judicial preclearance and could retain office for the remainder of their terms if the State obtained judicial preclearance. If the State failed to obtain judicial preclearance, the installed candidates could remain in office only 150 days after final judgment by the District Court.

On October 29, 1990, appellants filed an emergency application in this Court to enjoin the November 6 and December 8 elections pending appeal. On November 2, we granted the application in part and enjoined the elections for the judgeships that the District Court conceded were uncleared. Clark v. Roemer, 498 U.S. 953, modified, 498 U.S. 954 (1990). We did not overturn the District Court's refusal to enjoin elections for the judgeships that it considered precleared by implication. Ibid.

On January 18, 1991, we noted probable jurisdiction. 498 U.S. 1060. The next day, the State sought judicial preclearance for the electoral changes that the three-judge District Court found to be uncleared. That action is still pending in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.