United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Scott Coogler, United States District Judge.
the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP (“the Alabama
NAACP”), Eric Calhoun, and Jennifer Ford, bring this
action against Defendants, City of Pleasant Grove
(“Pleasant Grove”), Jerry Brasseale in his
official capacity as Mayor of Pleasant Grove, and William
Bullion, James Crumpton, Kenneth Hatfield, Phillip Houston,
and Paula Johnson in their official capacities as Pleasant
Grove City Council members (collectively
“Defendants”). In their Complaint, Plaintiffs
challenge the at-large method of electing members to Pleasant
Grove's City Council.
before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (doc.
14), Motion to Stay (doc. 16), and Motion to Strike (doc.
27). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (doc. 14) is due to be GRANTED in PART and DENIED in
PART. Defendants' Motion to Stay (doc. 16) and Motion to
Strike (doc. 27) are due to be TERMINATED as MOOT.
Pleasant Grove's at-large election method, each of the
five members of the Pleasant Grove City Council is elected
from one of five numbered places. City Council members serve
four-year, non-staggered terms, and candidates to the City
Council must win by a majority vote. Although the 2010 Census
indicates that 44.8% of Pleasant Grove's population is
Black, no Black candidate has ever been elected to the
Pleasant Grove City Council. In Pleasant Grove's most
recent City Council elections, which took place in 2016, all
four Black candidates for City Council lost to White
Complaint has four causes of action for which Plaintiffs seek
relief. Plaintiffs first allege that the at-large method of
electing Pleasant Grove City Council members violates Section
2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10301, under
either a results-only or intentional vote dilution theory of
liability. Plaintiffs also allege that Pleasant Grove's
at-large election method violates the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, see U.S. Const.,
amends. XIV & XV, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, because it was
purposefully adopted, or is being maintained, to dilute the
strength of Black voters. Plaintiffs request a declaratory
judgment and an injunction enjoining the Defendants from
continuing to conduct elections using the current at-large
method of electing City Council members. Additionally,
Plaintiffs ask that this Court require Pleasant Grove to
adopt single-member districts or another permissible method
of electing City Council members.
threshold matter, the Court will address Defendants'
argument that the Alabama NAACP does not having standing to
bring this action. (See Doc. 15 at 41.)
establish standing under Article III of the Constitution, a
plaintiff must allege (1) that it has suffered an actual or
imminent “injury in fact, ” (2) that there is a
“causal connection” between that injury and the
conduct complained of, and (3) that the injury is likely to
be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defs. of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). “At the
pleading stage, general factual allegations of injury
resulting from the defendant's conduct may
suffice.” Id. at 561.
Alabama NAACP has pled injuries sufficient to confer
standing. An organizational plaintiff may establish standing
in one of two ways. First, an organization's
“diversion-of-resources” injury is sufficient to
confer standing. See, e.g., Arcia v. Fla. Sec'y of
State, 772 F.3d 1335, 1341 (11th Cir. 2014). Second, an
organization may enjoy standing as the representative of its
members “when its members would otherwise have standing
to sue in their own right, the interests at stake are germane
to the organization's purpose, and neither the claim
asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation
of individual members in the lawsuit.” Id.
(quoting Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl.
Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 181 (2000)).
Alabama NAACP has sufficiently alleged that it has standing
as a representative of its constituents. According to the
Complaint, the Alabama NAACP's membership includes Black
residents of Pleasant Grove whose voting strength is
currently diluted. (Doc. 1 ¶ 8.) The Complaint further
alleges that the Alabama NAACP's members include
individuals who reside in areas of Pleasant Grove that could
constitute a single-member district with a majority-Black
voting-age population. (See id.) The Complaint goes
on to state that “[t]he goals of the Alabama NAACP are
to eliminate racial discrimination in the democratic process,
and to enforce federal laws and constitutional provisions
securing civil and voting rights.” (Id. ¶
7.) Thus, the Alabama NAACP has sufficiently alleged that:
(1) its members would have standing to sue in their own
right; and (2) that the interests at stake are germane to its
organizational purpose. Because the Court finds that this
case does not require participation by ...