RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: The White House
DOCKET NO.: 97-122
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
CITATION: 522 US 34 (1997)
DECIDED: Nov 17, 1997
Facts of the case
Monroe, Georgia is covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires the preclearance of certain voting changes. Prior to 1966, the Monroe city charter did not specify whether a majority vote or a plurality vote was needed to win a mayoral election. In practice, the city changed in 1966 from using a plurality-voting requirement to using a majority-voting requirement. The United States brought suit against the city, claiming that it had not sought preclearance of the change, as required by section 5 and sought to enjoin such majority voting and to require the city to return to plurality voting. The District Court, in granting summary judgment in favor of the United States, expressed the view that the change to majority voting had not been precleared in accordance with section 5.
Is the city of Monroe, Georgia entitled to conduct elections under a state-law rule requiring majority vote to win, when the U.S. alleged that the city had not sought preclearance of the change from plurality voting as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965?