Voinovich v. Quilter

LOCATION:Superior Court of the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 91-1618
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)

CITATION: 507 US 146 (1993)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1992
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1993

Armistead W. Gilliam, Jr. – on behalf of the Appellees
N. Victor Goodman – on behalf of the Appellants
Thomas G. Hungar – on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae supporting Appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Voinovich v. Quilter

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 08, 1992 in Voinovich v. Quilter

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 24, 1993 in Voinovich v. Quilter

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the court in No. 91-1618 Voinovich versus Quilter would be announced by Justice O’Connor.

Sandra Day O’Connor:

This case is on appeal from a three-judge District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

In 1991, the Ohio State Apportionment Board reapportioned the electoral districts for the state legislature there in accordance with Ohio State Constitution’s requirement that reapportion be conducted every 10 years.

The reapportionment plan created several districts in which a majority of the population is a member of a specific minority group, and these districts are known there as majority-minority districts.

The appellees, who were democratic members of the Board of Apportionment and others who oppose the plan, challenged it in court, arguing that it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

The District Court agreed with the appellees.

It held that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits the state from intentionally creating majority-minority districts unless they are necessary to remedy a Section 2 violation.

In this case I concluded the appellants have not shown a Section 2 violation and were therefore barred from creating the majority-minority districts.

In addition, the court held that the board had violated the Fifteenth Amendment because it intentionally diluted minority voting strengths for reasons of political advantage, and that the plan was inconsistent with the Fourteenth Amendment because it permitted too great a variance between the size of the largest and the smallest electoral districts.

For reasons explained in the opinion filed with the Clerk today, we reverse the judgment of the District Court.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not prohibit the creation of majority-minority districts or any other particular type of district, instead it focuses on the effective redistricting, and whether it results in the delusion of the voting strength of a protected class.

In this case, appellees did not show that the plan diluted the strength of black voters because they failed to demonstrate white-black voting sufficient to frustrate the election of the black voter’s candidates of choice.

And under our very recent decision in Growe versus Emison, the appellees cannot prevail here without such of showing.

And for the additional reasons also, given in the opinion, we reverse the District Court’s holdings regarding the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment claims as well.

The opinion is unanimous.