Foreman v. Dallas County

PETITIONER: B. C. Foreman et al.
RESPONDENT: Dallas County, Texas et al.
LOCATION: Camp Newfound Owatonna

DOCKET NO.: 96-987
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: Federal district court

CITATION: 521 US 979 (1997)
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1997

Facts of the case

In 1972, Texas became a covered jurisdiction for purposes of section 5 of Voting Rights Act of 1965. By statute, Texas authorizes counties to appoint election judges, who supervise voting at the polls on election days. In 1983 and several times thereafter, Dallas County changed procedures for selecting election judges. Each of the new methods used party-affiliation formulas. In 1996, various parties brought suit in Federal District Court against the county, claiming that section 5 required the changes to be precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. The District Court concluded that preclearance was not required, as the county had simply exercised its discretion under a state statute to adjust the procedure for appointing election judges. The court also noted that Department's preclearance of a 1985 submission from the state operated to preclear the county's use of partisan considerations in selecting election judges.

Question

Are Dallas County, Texas's changed procedures for selecting election judges exempt from preclearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?