Springfield, if District 186 were to be divided into 7
single-member districts, any majority black district which might
be drawn must be, for all practical purposes, within the city.
The 1980 census shows that the total population of the city is
99,637, of which 87,719 are white (88%), 10,735 are black
(10.77%), and 1,165 (1.17%) are members of other races. The
voting age population of the city is 74,257, of which 67,178 are
white (90.46%), 6,345 are black (8.54%), and 734 are members of
other races (.98%).
3. The Proposed District
Generally accepted standards for redistricting require that
districts should be drawn which are compact and geographically
contiguous and equal in population. It is generally recognized
that, where equal population districts are not drawn, any
variance should be based on rational policy, such as following
neighborhood lines or precinct boundaries.
With this standard in mind, the parties agree that the school
district should be divided into seven districts. Accepting the
facts and inferences most favorable to Plaintiffs, a single
member district could be drawn which would contain a 50.2%-50.4%
black majority. However, again drawing the inferences most
favorable to Plaintiffs, a district cannot be drawn where blacks
constitute a voting age majority. Defendants' evidence places the
percentage of voting age blacks in this district at 43.2%.
Plaintiffs do not refute this evidence in any of their affidavits
or other submissions in the record.
B. Park District
The facts are virtually the same in the park district suit.
The only major point of departure is an initial disagreement as
to whether the park district should be divided into six or seven
single-member districts. Because of our ultimate disposition, we
need not decide that question here. Therefore, we will assume
that Plaintiffs are correct in stating that the park district
should be divided into seven single member districts.
Using the seven districts as the standard, the numbers shake
out roughly the same way as the school district. Blacks can
maintain a 50.2% majority in a single district. Blacks cannot
comprise a majority in a single district when voting age
population figures are used. Defendants' figures indicate that
blacks would constitute 43.7% of the proposed district when
voting age population figures are used.
Plaintiffs have not refuted this evidence.
III — SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment should enter "if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Unquestionably, in determining whether a
genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence is to be
taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S.Ct.
1598, 1608-09, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Nevertheless, the rule is
also well established that the mere existence of some factual
dispute will not frustrate an otherwise proper summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106
S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Thus, the "preliminary
question for the judge [is] not whether there is literally no
evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could
properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it,
upon whom the onus of proof is imposed." Id. 106 S.Ct. at 2511,
quoting Improvement Co. v. Munson, 14 Wall. 442, 448, 20 L.Ed.
867 (1872); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In other words, the
Court must consider the evidence "through the prism of the
substantive evidentiary burden" in deciding Defendants' motion.
Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2513; Carson v. Allied News Co.,
529 F.2d 206, 210 (7th Cir. 1976). Applying this standard, the Court
now turns to the case at bar.
IV — LAW AND ANALYSIS
Plaintiffs first argue that the use of summary procedures by
the Court is inappropriate
in the context of the complex issues raised by this voting
rights litigation. For that proposition they cite Poller v.
Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 473, 82 S.Ct.
486, 491, 7 L.Ed.2d 458 (1962), where the Supreme Court observed
that "[s]ummary procedures should be used sparingly in complex
anti-trust litigation where motive and intent play leading roles,
the proof is largely in the hands of the alleged conspirators,
and hostile witnesses thicken the plot."
Poller is correct as far as it goes; however, it has never
gone so far as to create a "complexity" exception to Federal
Rules 12(b)(6) and 56. See, e.g., Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford
Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984); Havoco of
America, Ltd. v. Shell Oil Co., 626 F.2d 549, 553 (7th Cir.
The typecast of the issues raised do not necessarily determine
whether summary judgment is required. As is true in any other
case before us on a motion for summary judgment, the propriety of
granting the motion is dependent on the interplay of the facts
and law presented and the application of those facts and law to
the standard enunciated in Rule 56. To treat any given case
otherwise would "represent an abdication of our judicial
responsibility." Havoco, 626 F.2d at 553.
In any event, motive and intent do not play a role in this
case. The Voting Rights Act created a strictly results-based
test and this case may properly be decided upon the undisputed
facts before us.
Although the parties have argued additional issues, the Court
believes that this motion presents a single question: Can
Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving that the minority group
is "sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute
a majority in a single member district"? Thornburg v. Gingles,
___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2752, 2766, 92 L.Ed.2d 25 (1986).
The Supreme Court spoke of the above-stated quotation as one
of three necessary preconditions to establishing a violation of
§ 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Id. Thus, if a class of
plaintiffs fails on the proof of this condition, the defendant
Here, Plaintiffs argue that the affidavits of their expert,
Dr. Race Davies, establishes that blacks constitute a 50.2%
majority in a single member district. They argue that this
enables them to clear the first hurdle of Thornburg. We agree,
as we must, on the motion for summary judgment, with
Plaintiffs' evidence establishing that a single member district
can be drawn containing a 50.2% black majority. This does not,
however, lead us to Plaintiffs' ultimate conclusion that the
first element of the Thornburg criteria has been met.
The reason for our disagreement is our belief that Plaintiffs
have proceeded on a faulty legal premise. Plaintiffs' premise
is that Thornburg only requires plaintiff class to demonstrate
that it can constitute a bare majority in a single member
district. Plaintiffs maintain that Thornburg should be read as
requiring a simple majority based on the total population of
the district. Defendants counter by arguing that the population
figures should be derived from the total voting age population
as opposed to the total population. We agree with Defendants
that "majority" as it is used in Thornburg refers to the voting
age population rather than the total population.
Defendants' position is supported by three arguments. First,
language in Thornburg itself indicates that the Court was
referring to a voting age majority. Second, the district court
opinion which spawned the Thornburg case supports the use of a
voting age majority, as does additional case law. And three, a
logical interpretation of the Voting Rights Act compels the use
of a voting age majority to determine whether minority voters
are injured as a result of the challenged voting structure.
As we noted earlier, Thornburg held that in order to maintain
a successful challenge to an existing form of government under
the Voting Rights Act a minority group must show that "it is
sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a
majority in a single member district."
Thornburg, 106 S.Ct. at 2766. Read literally and without
further elucidation, this could be construed as requiring only
a population majority. Plaintiffs ask us to interpret the
language in this manner. However, the Supreme Court's
explanation for this threshold test calls for a different
interpretation. The Supreme Court explained:
The reason that a minority group making such a
challenge must show, as a threshold matter, that is
sufficiently large and geographically compact to
constitute a majority in a single member district is
this: unless minority voters possess the potential to
elect representatives in the absence of the
challenged structure or practice, they cannot claim
to have been injured by that structure or practice.
The single-member district is generally the
appropriate standard against which to measure
minority group potential to elect because it is the
smallest political unit from which its
representatives are elected. Thus, if the minority
group is spread evenly throughout a multi-member
district, or if, although geographically compact, the
minority group is so small in relation to the
surrounding white population that it could not
constitute a majority in a single-member district,
these minority voters cannot maintain that they would
have been able to elect representatives of their
choice in the absence of the multi-member electoral
structure. As two commentators have explained, "to
demonstrate [that minority voters are injured by at
large elections], the minority voters must be
sufficiently concentrated and politically cohesive
that a putative districting plan would result in
districts in which members of a racial minority would
constitute a majority of the voters, whose clear
electoral choices are in fact defeated by at-large
voting. If minority voters' residences are
substantially integrated throughout the jurisdiction,
the at-large district cannot be blamed for the defeat
of the minority-supported candidates. . . . [This
standard] thus would only protect racial minority
voters from dimunition proximately caused by the
districting plan; it would not assure racial
minorities' proportional representation." (Emphasis
Thornburg, 106 S.Ct. at 2766-67, n. 17 (citing Blacksher &
Menefee, From Reynolds v. Sims to City of Mobile v. Bolden:
Have the White Suburbs Commandeered the Fifteenth Amendment?,
34 Hastings L.J. 55-56 (1982)).
What is readily apparent from the Court's reasoning is that
the threshold test focuses on minority voters' potential to
elect representatives of their choice. Only those members of
the minority who are eligible to vote can affect this potential
to elect. It is not surprising that the Court's language
frequently refers to minority voters. Hence, we believe that
the Court was implicitly adopting the minority voting age
population as its point of reference. We are confident that if
directly confronted with the question, the Supreme Court would
acknowledge that the voting age population is the relevant
figure to be used in determining if the Plaintiffs can meet the
first element of Thornburg.
Furthermore, we do not have to look far to find an explicit
adoption of voting age population as the appropriate measuring
stick. In Gingles v. Edmisten, the district court found that
"no aggregation of less than 50% of an area's voting age
population can possibly constitute an effective voting
majority." 590 F. Supp. 345, 381 n. 3 (E.D.N.C. 1984), aff'd in
part, rev'd in part sub nom, Thornburg v. Gingles, ___ U.S.
___, 106 S.Ct. 2752, 92 L.Ed.2d 25 (1986). The district court
created a low side limit which a voting rights plaintiff must
overcome in order to prevail. Id. At this point, it is strictly
a numbers game and no other factors need be examined. This of
course comports with the "results" oriented approached which
Congress sought to implement in the Voting Rights Act. Thornburg,
106 S.Ct. at 2759.
The Supreme Court did not disturb this portion of the district
court's opinion and we believe implicitly adopted it. Other
courts are in agreement with this conclusion. See, e.g., Latino
Political Action Committee v. City of Boston, 609 F. Supp. 739,
747 (D.Mass. 1985), aff'd, 784 F.2d 409 (1st Cir. 1986); Martin
v. Allain, 658 F. Supp. 1183 (S.D.Miss. 1987).
Finally, common sense dictates that we use the voting age
population as our point of reference. When speaking of vote
dilution or potential to elect representatives, you necessarily
speak of voters. Those not eligible to vote do not enter into
the calculations. Hence, a test which incorporates non-voters
improperly skews the balance against defendants. For these
reasons we find that the minority voting age population is the
determining factor for purposes of deciding whether Plaintiffs
meet the first pre-condition of Thornburg. We now turn to the
question of whether summary judgment is appropriate when
utilizing the minority voting age population as the appropriate
Plaintiffs have brought no evidence showing that blacks would
constitute a majority of the voting age population in their
proposed district. Both the park district and school district
have submitted affidavits that place the voting age population
in Plaintiffs' proposed district below 50%. The park district's
affidavits show a black voting age population of 43.7% in the
proposed district. The school district's affidavits reach a
result of 43.2%. At trial, Plaintiffs would bear the burden of
proving that the black voting age population would be 50% or
greater in their proposed district.
The burden of the moving party is to show that there is no
genuine issue of material fact. The moving party may support
its motion with affidavits and similar material. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e). If through its supporting materials the moving party has
demonstrated the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,
then under Rule 56(e) the burden shifts to the nonmoving party
to show evidence of a genuine issue of material fact. The
moving party cannot thereafter rely on its pleadings. Wright,
Miller & Kane, Federal Practice & Procedure, Civil 2d, §
Here, Defendants' figures as to the voting age population
have not been rebutted by any of Plaintiffs' affidavits or
other supporting materials. Hence, Defendants have met their
burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material
And "the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient
to establish the existence of an element to that party's case
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53,
91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
Defendants have met their burden of showing an absence of a
genuine issue of material fact and Plaintiffs have failed to make
a sufficient showing establishing the existence of a key element
to their case on which they bear the burden of proof at trial.
Therefore, summary judgment in favor of Defendants is mandated.
Ergo, the motions for summary judgment filed by Springfield
School District No. 186 and by the Springfield Park District are
ALLOWED. Judgment is entered in favor of the Defendants and
against the Plaintiffs.
All other pending motions are denied as moot.
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