Growe v. Emison

LOCATION: City Council of Hialeah

DOCKET NO.: 91-1420
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)

CITATION: 507 US 25 (1993)
ARGUED: Nov 02, 1992
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1993

Bruce Donald Willis - on behalf of the Appellees
John R. Tunheim - on behalf of the Appellants
Kenneth W. Starr - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae supporting Appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Growe v. Emison

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 02, 1992 in Growe v. Emison

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 23, 1993 in Growe v. Emison

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in two more cases will be announced by Justice Scalia.

Antonin Scalia:

These are No. 91-1420, is Growe versus Emison.

It is an appeal from the three-judge District Court in the District of Minnesota.

The petitioner John Growe is the Secretary of State of Minnesota.

The case is difficult to describe because at issue are really two cases.

A group of Minnesota voters filed an action in State Court against the Minnesota's Secretary of State and other election officials.

Alleging that in light of the 1990 Census, Minnesota's Federal congressional and state legislative districts were malapportioned in violation of the Federal and State Constitutions, and seeking, in that suit, declaratory relief and judicial creation of new districts, if the state legislature failed to act.

Shortly and after that suit was filed and that suit is not is the suit before us here.

The appealees in the present case in another group of Minnesota voters filed an action against essentially the same defendants including the Secretary of State seeking the same relief in Federal District Court.

The Federal suit raised the same constitutional claims and in addition raised a claim that the legislative district in Minneapolis diluted minority voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While these two cases were pending, the Minnesota state legislature adopted a plan for new legislative districts, new state districts, but that plan contained numerous drafting errors.

The District Court, the Federal Court set a deadline for the state legislature to redistrict both legislative and congressional districts and refused to abstain or to defer to the State Court action which was pending.

The State Court meanwhile, issued a preliminary legislative plan correcting the technical errors in the State's legislative plan.

It intended to hold that plan and advance pending action by the legislature to correct its own mistakes.

The District Court, the Federal Court, then stayed further proceedings in the State Court action forbad the State Court from proceeding any further.

This Court, one month later, vacated that federal stay.

When legislature failed to act, the State Court issued a final order adapting its own legislative plan and held hearings on competing proposals for a congressional districting plans.

The District Court, the Federal Court intern adapted its own legislative and congressional redistricting plan and permanently enjoined interference with implementation of its plans.

The court concluded in effect that the State Court's legislative plan violated section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it did not contain a super majority minority Senate district in Minneapolis, that is a district in which minority voters were a clear majority.

The District Court's plan did contain such a district with a majority composed of at least three distinct minority groups.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we reverse.

In accord with our opinion in a case called Scott versus Germano, we conclude that the District Court erred in not deferring to the State Court proceeding.

States have the primary duty and responsibility to draw there election districts.

Federal Courts must defer action when a state through its Legislative or Judicial Branch has begun in timely fashion to perform that task.

Moreover, in finding a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act the District Court erred in not applying the pre-requisites identified in a case called Thornburg versus Gingles, for vote dilution challenges to multimember districts.

We hold today that the three Gingles pre conditions namely a minority group that is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in the single-member district; minority political cohesion; and thirdly majority block voting that enables defeated minority preferred candidate.

Those two factors also apply to a vote delusion challenge to a Single-member district.

In the present case there is no evidence of majority block voting or of political cohesion among the three minority groups the District Court combined in the new district.

The Gingles preconditions were normally ignored, but on the present records were unattainable.

The judgment of the District Court is reversed and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss.