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SUTTON v. DUNNE

December 22, 1981

JAMES W. SUTTON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GEORGE W. DUNNE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I.

In 1973, the plaintiffs brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking reapportionment of the membership of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County. When the suit was brought, the Board had fifteen members, ten elected from the City of Chicago and five from suburban Cook County. That apportionment gave the city electorate 66.67% of the voting power on the Board and the suburban electorate 33.33%. According to the 1970 Census Bureau figures for Cook County, after adjustment by the Census Bureau, the city's population was only 61.80% of the county total, and the suburbs' population was 38.20%. Under the 10-5 configuration of the Board, therefore, the city was overrepresented by 4.87%, and the suburbs were underrepresented by 4.87%. Accordingly, the total deviation was 9.74%. We found this disparity unconstitutionally diluted the voting rights of suburban voters and ordered that, commencing with the Board to be elected on November 5, 1974 and for subsequent elections, defendants increase the size of the Board to sixteen members, ten to be elected by the city and six by the suburbs. Sutton v. Dunne, 365 F. Supp. 483 (N.D.Ill. 1973).

On November 2, 1981, recognizing population changes indicated by the 1980 census, the Board passed an ordinance decreasing the size of the Board to fifteen members, nine to be elected by the city (one less than previously) and six by the suburbs (the same number as previously). With that apportionment, 60% of the Board members would be elected from the city and 40% from the suburbs.

The movants request that we modify our 1973 order to reflect population changes in the last decade. In addition, they contend that, even after the decrease in city representation accomplished by the recent ordinance, the suburbs are still substantially underrepresented. They claim that the total deviation is 5.87% and ask that the number of members on the Board be restored to sixteen — nine to be elected by the city voters, seven by suburban voters — or to seventeen — ten to be elected by the city, seven by the suburbs.

The deviation from equality is not 5.87% as the movants contend. In calculating the deviation, they have used the raw population figures, unadjusted to reflect the percentage of the population not counted. Their figures, therefore, are probably inaccurate and cannot form the basis for our analysis of the Board's apportionment plan.*fn1

We do not have accurate adjusted figures, however, since the Census Bureau has not yet estimated what percentage of the population was undercounted in the 1980 census. Our 1973 decision was reached after the Census Bureau had released its estimates of undercounts for the 1970 census. At that time, we adjusted the raw data to reflect the estimated 1.9% undercount for white persons and the estimated 7.7% undercount for nonwhite persons. Historically, the Census Bureau has adjusted its Cook County raw figures in previous censuses by comparable amounts.

Accordingly, it is reasonable to use that same readjustment formula in calculations for the 1980 census. Although the figures may later prove slightly inaccurate, based on previous experience they will be closer to the actual figures than the raw data.*fn2

City of Chicago
---------------
                      1980 Population  Adjustment  1980 Adjusted Population
                      ---------------  ----------  ------------------------
White                    1,143,426        1.9%            1,165,151
Nonwhite                 1,861,635        7.7%            2,004,980
                         ---------                        ---------
                         3,005,061                        3,170,131
Suburban Cook County
--------------------
                      1980 Population  Adjustment  1980 Adjusted Population
                      ---------------  ----------  ------------------------
White                    1,988,406        1.9%            2,026,185
Nonwhite                   259,723        7.7%              279,720
                         ---------                        ---------
                         2,248,129                        2,305,905
Total Cook County     5,476,036
1980 Adjusted Population
------------------------
City                     3,170,131     =     57.89%
Suburban                 2,305,905     =     42.11%
                         ---------
                         5,476,036

The County Board reapportionment under the recently adopted ordinance of nine seats to the city, six to the suburbs, gives the city, which has 57.89% of the population, 60% of the votes on the Board which is an overrepresentation of 2.11%. Suburban Cook County, which has 42.11% of the population would have 40% of the votes on the Board which is an underrepresentation of 2.11%. The total deviation is therefore 4.22%. On a sixteen member Board with a 9-7 apportionment, the suburbs would have 43.75% of the votes and be overrepresented by 1.64%, while the city would be underrepresented in a like amount. The total deviation would therefore be 3.28%. On a seventeen member board with a 10-7 apportionment, the suburbs would have 41.18% of the votes and be underrepresented by .93% and the city overrepresented by the same amount. The total deviation ...


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