The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.
Before the court is the motion of the counter-plaintiffs to dismiss, or alternatively for summary judgment on, the counterclaims. For reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part, denied in part, and reserved in part.
This action arises from efforts to redistrict the Illinois General Assembly following the 1990 federal census. The initial complaint was filed by the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission and its Republican majority members on October 4, 1991, seeking a declaration that the redistricting plan which the commission passed that day complied with relevant federal and state laws.
A parallel case, challenging the redistricting plan, was filed by the Illinois Attorney General on October 11, 1991 in the Illinois Supreme Court. That court remanded the redistricting plan to the Redistricting Commission on December 13, 1991 for hearings and consideration of alternative plans. People ex rel. Burris v. Ryan, No. 72662, 167 Ill. Dec. 893, 1991 Ill. LEXIS 123, 588 N.E.2d 1023 (Ill. S. Ct. Dec. 13, 1991). The commission held hearings from January 4 through 6, 1992, and passed a modified redistricting plan on January 6, 1992. The Illinois Supreme Court approved the modified plan on January 10, 1992 and issued an opinion explaining its ruling on January 14, 1992. People ex rel. Burris v. Ryan, No. 72662, 167 Ill. Dec. 903, 1992 Ill. LEXIS 1, 588 N.E.2d 1033 (Ill. S. Ct. Jan. 14, 1992).
Nineteen defendants in this case, all of whom were intervenors in the Illinois Supreme Court case, filed the three instant counterclaims on January 17, 1992. The first counterclaim (Count I) alleges that African-American communities in at least five House of Representatives districts and three Senate districts in the Chicago area would allegedly be denied a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, and minority communities elsewhere in the state were fractured, all in violation of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 et seq.. The second counterclaim (Count II) alleges that the modified redistricting plan is the result of partisan gerrymandering which disproportionately benefits the Republican Party, in violation of the counter-plaintiffs' 14th Amendment equal protection rights and their 15th Amendment voting rights. The third counterclaim (Count III) alleges that the Redistricting Commission failed to conduct timely hearings or provide opportunities for meaningful public input into the redistricting process, and that it delayed the case in the Illinois Supreme Court, in violation of the counter-plaintiffs' 14th Amendment due process rights.
The counter-defendants moved on January 21, 1992 to dismiss, or alternatively for summary judgment on, all the counterclaims.
Due to the need for expedited disposition of this litigation, the court will immediately rule on the counter-defendants' motion to the extent feasible under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), while reserving its ruling on any remaining issues until after the counter-plaintiffs have had an opportunity to respond.
On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the allegations of the complaint as well as the reasonable inferences to be drawn from them are taken as true. Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The court, however, need not strain to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff which are not apparent on the face of the complaint. Coates v. Illinois St. Bd. of Educ., 559 F.2d 445, 447 (7th Cir. 1977). The plaintiff need not set out in detail the facts upon which a claim is based, but must allege sufficient facts to outline the cause of action. Id. The complaint must state either direct or inferential allegations concerning all material elements necessary for recovery under the relevant legal theory. Mescall v. Burrus, 603 F.2d 1266 (7th Cir. 1979). The court is not required to accept legal conclusions either alleged or inferred from pleaded facts. Carl Sandburg Village Condominium Ass'n No. 1 v. First Condominium Dev. Co., 758 F.2d 203, 207 (7th Cir. 1985). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is improper unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Papapetropoulous v. Milwaukee Transp. Servs., Inc., 795 F.2d 591, 594 (7th Cir. 1986).
The counter-defendants contend that Count I of the counterclaims -- which apparently raises a minority vote dilution claim under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 -- is invalid because it does not allege the three threshold elements of such a claim set forth in Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 50-51, 92 L. Ed. 2d 25, 106 S. Ct. 2752 (1986). Those elements are (1) that the minority group is large enough to constitute a majority in a single-member district, (2) that the minority is politically cohesive, and (3) that the white majority must vote as a bloc to a sufficient extent that it will usually defeat the candidate preferred by the minority. Id.; see also Chisom v. Roemer, 115 L. Ed. 2d 348, 111 S. Ct. 2354, 2362-64 (1991) (results test; intent showing unnecessary).
Gingles, however, involved a challenge to multi-member districts, while this case involves single-member districts. Application of the three-part Gingles test in § 2 Voting Rights Act challenges to single-member district boundaries is questionable. See Chisom, 111 S. Ct. at 2365 (requiring both minority inability to elect candidates of their choice and less minority opportunity to participate in the political process, based on the totality of circumstances); Gingles, 478 U.S. at 46 n.12 (no decision on what standards apply to single-member district cases where minority groups are not large or compact enough to constitute a majority in any district); Armour v. State of Ohio, 775 F. Supp. 1044, 1052 (N.D. Ohio 1991)) (three-judge panel) (rejecting application of Gingles pre-conditions to claim that single-member districts were racially gerrymandered).
The counter-plaintiffs essentially allege in Count I that several Chicago-area districts are illegal, even though these districts contain seemingly "safe" 65 percent African-American majorities, and that some downstate districts fracture minority communities, even though there are insufficient minority members in these areas to constitute a majority in any of these downstate districts. It is not clear, based on the present record, that either of these components of Count I are invalid. The counter-plaintiffs might be able to show that minority voting rights were illegally diluted due to the configurations of either the "safe" districts or the downstate districts with relatively small minority populations. See Armour, 775 F.Supp. at 1052 (actionable dilution claim does not require that minority members could constitute a majority in a single district). Therefore, the motion to dismiss Count I is denied.