Supreme Court Ends Racial Gerrymandering by Department of Justice

In 1993, the Bossier Parish school board submitted a race-neutral plan to redraw voting districts as required by the 1990 census. This plan was identical to one earlier approved by the Department of Justice.

However, the NAACP proposed an alternative plan which would have created two black majority districts. The school board declined to implement the NAACP proposal since it would have involved splitting 46 existing precincts and violated Louisiana state law.

Based on this refusal, the Justice Department denied pre-clearance of the school board plan. A three judge district court heard Bossier’s appeal, and determined that its voting plan did not have a discriminatory purpose or retrogressive result, and that Bossier was thus entitled to pre-clearance for its race neutral plan under the Voting Rights Act.

But the DOJ persisted in opposing the plan, drawing out the matter over 7 years and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally on Jan. 24, 2000, Justice Scalia declared that the DOJ may no longer use the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act to force local jurisdictions to artificially maximize the number of minority districts.

Case Status: Victory

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