City of Mobile v. Bolden

PETITIONER:City of Mobile
RESPONDENT:Bolden
LOCATION:Mobile City Council

DOCKET NO.: 77-1844
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 446 US 55 (1980)
REARGUED: Oct 29, 1979
DECIDED: Apr 22, 1980
ARGUED: Mar 19, 1979

ADVOCATES:
Charles S. Rhyne – Reargued the cause for the appellants
Eric Schnapper – on behalf of Appellees Brown Et Al
James U. Blacksher – for appellees
J. U. Blacksher – Reargued the cause for the appellees
James P. Turner – Reargued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance
William H. Allen – on behalf of Appellants Williams Et Al

Facts of the case

Wiley L. Bolden and other residents of Mobile, Alabama brought a class action on behalf of all black citizens in Mobile. They argued that the practice of electing the City Commissioners at-large unfairly diluted the voting strength of black citizens. A district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Bolden.

Question

Did the at-large system violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments?

Media for City of Mobile v. Bolden

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 19, 1979 in City of Mobile v. Bolden
Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument – October 29, 1979 in City of Mobile v. Bolden

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 22, 1980 in City of Mobile v. Bolden

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment of the Court in No. 1844, City of Mobile, Alabama against Bolden will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

This case is here on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The City of Mobile, Alabama has since 1911 been governed by a city commission consisting of three members elected by the voters of the city at large.

The question in this case is whether this at large system of municipal elections violates the rights of Mobile’s Negro voters in contravention of federal statutory or constitutional law as held by the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

For the reasons expressed in an opinion filed today, the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Powell, Mr. Justice Rehnquist and I have concluded that Mobile’s electoral and governmental system does not on the record in this case violate the United States constitution or federal law.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a concurring opinion explaining why he has reached the same conclusion.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has also filed an opinion concurring in the result.

Accordingly, the judgment before us is reversed.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting statement.

Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion which Justice Brennan has joined.

Mr. Justice Marshall has also filed a dissenting opinion almost all of which Mr. Justice Brennan has also joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.