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.

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. State

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

October 12, 2017

ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE STATE OF ALABAMA, et al., Defendants. ALABAMA DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE STATE OF ALABAMA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         Before this Court are the objections of the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus plaintiffs to the remedial redistricting plans enacted by the State of Alabama and a motion to intervene to object to the remedial plans filed by Sandra Arnold and Louella Kelly. (Docs. 345, 350, 363). First, we deny the motion to intervene as untimely, Fed.R.Civ.P. 24. Second, because the Black Caucus plaintiffs lack standing to challenge House Districts 14 and 16 and Senate District 5, we dismiss their objections that are based on racial gerrymandering. Third, we dismiss the Black Caucus plaintiffs' partisan gerrymandering objection to the same districts because the Black Caucus plaintiffs lack standing to bring a partisan gerrymandering challenge to the relevant districts. In the alternative, we hold that the Black Caucus plaintiffs have not articulated an adequate standard for adjudicating the partisan gerrymandering objection.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In a memorandum opinion and order entered January 20, 2017, this Court declared 12 of Alabama's legislative districts unconstitutional racial gerrymanders and enjoined the use of those districts in future elections. (Doc. 316 at 4-5). In a separate order entered the same day, this Court directed the parties to confer and, if possible, agree to a joint procedure for the remedial phase of this litigation, (Doc. 318 at 3), which they did. (Docs. 326, 327). The joint procedure gave Alabama until May 23 to enact a remedial redistricting plan and gave the Alabama Democratic Conference plaintiffs and Alabama Legislative Black Caucus plaintiffs until June 13 to file objections to the plan. (Doc. 326 at 2; Doc. 327 at 2, 4).

         Alabama met its deadline and enacted Senate Bill 403 and House Bill 571 to cure the constitutional violations identified by this Court. (Doc. 318 at 2; Doc. 335-1 at 273; Doc. 337-1 at 584). Although we enjoined only the use of twelve of the majority-black house and senate districts, (Doc. 316 at 4-5), the remedial plans redrew all of the majority-black districts. (Doc. 335 at 4). The drafters of the remedial plans did not consider race when they initially drew the remedial districts. (Doc. 335 at 4-5). The drafters considered the racial composition of a district only if, after changes had been made to the district, the black voting age population fell below 50 percent. (Doc. 335 at 5).

         The plaintiffs posed no objection to the majority-black districts in the remedial plans. The Democratic Conference plaintiffs agreed with Alabama that Senate Bill 403 and House Bill 571 cured the impermissible use of race in the former majority-black districts. (Doc. 349). The Democratic Conference plaintiffs explained that “[t]he new plans for both the House and Senate split significantly fewer counties and precincts, and reduce black population percentages in the vast majority of the black-majority House and Senate districts, without compromising the ability of [Alabama Democratic Conference] members to elect representatives of their choice.” (Id. at 1). The Black Caucus plaintiffs also posed no objection to the majority-black districts as drawn in Senate Bill 403 and House Bill 571. (Doc. 345 at 2).

         The Black Caucus plaintiffs instead moved to object to three majority-white districts never before challenged in this litigation-House Districts 14 and 16, and Senate District 5. (Id.). House Districts 14 and 16 are part of the Jefferson County House Delegation, and Senate District 5 is part of the Jefferson County Senate Delegation. (Id. at 19, 23). The Black Caucus plaintiffs argue that the drafters included these districts in Jefferson County to “maintain more majority-white than majority-black districts in the Jefferson County” House and Senate delegations. (Id. at 19, 23). The Black Caucus plaintiffs complain that all three districts protrude into Jefferson County but none of the representatives of the districts reside in Jefferson County, establishing that the districts are racial gerrymanders. (Id. at 2, 13, 19, 23). The Black Caucus plaintiffs contend that their proposed alternative remedial plans, which removed Senate District 5 and House District 14 from Jefferson County, cured the racial gerrymanders of the Jefferson County delegations. (Id. at 2).

         The Black Caucus plaintiffs also argue that the Jefferson County districts are partisan gerrymanders that violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 363 at 3). In support of this objection, the Black Caucus plaintiffs point to the possibility that the Supreme Court will address partisan gerrymandering in the October 2017 term. (Id. at 2).

         Sandra Arnold, a resident and registered voter of House District 14, and Louella Kelly, a resident and registered voter in House District 16, moved to intervene in the case, Fed.R.Civ.P. 24, to join the Black Caucus plaintiffs in their challenge of these districts. (Doc. 350 at 1, 3). Arnold and Kelly assert that they have an interest in this action now that Alabama has enacted remedial plans that altered the design of House Districts 14 and 16. (Id. at 2). Arnold and Kelly acknowledge, however, that if their “motion to intervene is denied, . . . the plaintiffs may be held to lack standing to challenge” House Districts 14 and 16 because no plaintiff lives in those districts. (Id. at 3). In their defense of the motion to intervene, the Black Caucus plaintiffs also admit that neither intervenor resides in Senate District 5, “[s]o neither movant nor any [Black Caucus] plaintiff has standing to pursue a racial gerrymandering claim with respect to [Senate District] 5.” (Doc. 357 at 2).

         II. DISCUSSION

         We divide this discussion in three parts. We first explain that the motion to intervene to challenge House Districts 14 and 16 is untimely. We next explain that the Black Caucus plaintiffs lack standing to challenge Senate District 5 and House Districts 14 and 16 as racial gerrymanders. Finally, we explain that the Black Caucus plaintiffs lack standing to raise their partisan gerrymandering challenge, and we hold, in the alternative, that the Black Caucus plaintiffs have failed to articulate a standard for adjudicating their partisan gerrymandering objection.

         A. The Motion to Intervene Is Untimely.

         To succeed on their motion to intervene, Arnold and Kelly must establish as a threshold matter that their motion is timely. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24; Howse v. S/V Canada Goose I, 641 F.2d 317, 320 (5th Cir. 1981) (“Timely application is a requirement for both intervention of right and permissive intervention.”). We consider four factors to determine if a motion to intervene is timely:

(1) the length of time during which the would-be intervenor knew or reasonably should have known of his interest in the case before he petitioned for leave to intervene; (2) the extent of prejudice to the existing parties as a result of the would-be intervenor's failure to apply as soon as he knew or reasonably should have known of his interest; (3) the extent of prejudice to the would-be intervenor if his petition is denied; and (4) the existence of unusual circumstances militating either for or against a determination that the application is timely.

United States v. Jefferson Cty., 720 F.2d 1511, 1516 (11th Cir. 1983). Although Arnold and Kelly contend that these factors favor intervention, (Doc. 350 at 2-5; Doc. ...


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.