Chisom v. Roemer Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“The LA Supreme Court had 7 judges, each of whom were elected by the popular vote. The First District elected 2 judges, while the other five districts elected 1 judge each. Only one of the parishes in one of the district had a majority of black voters, despite the fact that the majority of the state’s voters were black. Petitioners, representing New Orleans’ black majority, sued the state’s governor, arguing that the election procedure wakened the majority’s voting power, violating the Voting Rights Act. The 1982 amendment prohibited a voting procedure which caused minority voters to “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate n the political process and elect representatives of their choice.” Trial Court and Appellate Court sided with the state of Louisiana, on the grounds that the Voting Rights Act did not apply to the election of judges. Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court.”


Does the federal government have the ability to take land into trust for American Indian tribes recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934?


“Yes. In a majority decision authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court rejected the possibility that Congress had intended for the 1982 amendment to exclude judicial elections. The Court determined that if Congress had that aim, it would have indicated this exclusion explicitly. Consequently, the Court favored a broad interpretation of the word “representative” in section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, considering it to encompass all winners of popular elections. Thus, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, sending the original case back to be reevaluated in light of the reversal.”

Case Information

Citation: 501 US 380 (1991)
Argued: Apr 22, 1991
Decided: Jun 20, 1991
Case Brief: 1991